ALERT:  TECH SUPPORT SCAMS

ALERT: TECH SUPPORT SCAMS

Last month, LCSO was notified of a “Geek Squad” scam that had been reported to our Economics Crime Unit.

Along similar lines, it appears that “Tech Support” scams have become commonplace and have been reported to our agency.  This fraudulent activity involves criminals falsely representing legitimate companies in an attempt to share personal information, make payment for bogus antivirus software or for computer repairs…or both.

Legitimate antivirus software protects computer users from malware, phishing attacks, spyware, viruses and much more.  Many of these products perform well and protect consumers from malicious activity.

Unfortunately, the common use of antivirus products has led to technical support scams that may seem reputable and legitimate to even savvy computer users.

The fraudulent activity generally begins with a random notification indicating that you have a serious/urgent problem as a result of malware.  You are asked to click on a link to repair this issue, respond to a “pop-up” notification, call a phone number for assistance, respond to an email or text or send payment for the repair.

These messages and phone calls appear to come from trusted and well-known technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Norton, McAfee, etc.  The emails/texts will likely use their corporate logos and/or addresses.

Should you receive any form of random and unexpected message or phone call…do not respond!

Do not click on any links…do not call tech-company phone numbers left in voicemail messages…do not provide personal or financial information to anyone offering technical support.  Legitimate corporations will never ask for your credit card number, social security number, bank account number, etc.

It is always a good idea to run a security scan on your computer or laptop.  This will help you find and eliminate malware.  Keep your security software up-to-date by turning on automatic updates.

Should you receive these messages, or similar ones, please report them to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 239-258-3292.

SCAM ALERT

SCAM ALERT

Please be advised that we have been made aware of a TEXT SCAM currently circulating throughout the community.

Scammers are texting residents with a “discount link” to purchase Lee County Sheriff’s Office shirts. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK…DO NOT RESPOND…DO NOT SEND ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will never call, text or email you in an effort to solicit money or to encourage you to purchase items.

If you have been victimized or would like to report the scam, you can submit a report through our Community Online Portal System (C.O.P.S.) located on the Lee County Sheriff’s Office website.

FRAUD ALERT: RENTAL SCAMS

FRAUD ALERT: RENTAL SCAMS

The population in Southwest Florida continues to grow, as does the rental market.  Southwest Florida appears to be in high demand and, as a result, prices for rental properties have risen considerably.

Out-of-state residents search the internet for affordable housing in our region and a sizeable number of Lee County residents appear to be searching for more affordable rental options.

Finding affordable housing is often a difficult task…and the scammers know it.

When searching for rental properties, be alert to ads listing a price significantly lower than that of similar properties.

Renters should not sign any document prior to inspecting the property…both inside and out.  Renters have been scammed when attempting to rent properties that don’t exist or are not for rent.

Verify ownership using the Lee County Property Appraiser’s website and ensure that you are dealing with the owner or an authorized representative.

Never wire money as a deposit or payment for the first and last month’s rent…especially without a signed and verified lease. 

Requests to wire money overseas or to send gift cards as a form of deposit should never be considered.

Additionally, don’t allow your online property search to result in identity theft.  Do not share your personal information without verifying the identity of the party that you are dealing with.  Be careful.  Hackers can easily change the contact information in an existing online ad…making it seem reputable.

The FTC has a very helpful hotline…1-877-FTC-HELP.  Don’t hesitate to use it when concerned or scammed.

FRAUD ALERT: CHARITY SCAMS

FRAUD ALERT: CHARITY SCAMS

Regrettably, the United States and nearby nations are struggling with catastrophic fires, earthquakes and illness.  Twelve U.S. states are battling 104 large fires that have already burned 2.4 million acres.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has taken the lives of thousands of our neighbors in Haiti and well over one million island residents are struggling with injuries, homelessness, food shortages and so much more.

So many have suffered losses as a result of the pandemic that continues to devastate Florida and the nation.

During these difficult times, reputable and remarkable agencies escalate their efforts to provide assistance to those in need.

Sadly, scammers and fraudsters recognize that generous, caring people can be fooled and cheated out of their hard-earned money in the name of “charity.”

Scammers utilize phone contact, text messages and social media posts, all claiming to provide critical aid to those in need, only to steal the donations that they collect.

Never feel pressured to make immediate decisions regarding charitable donations. 

The reputable agencies are happy to have you investigate their efforts online and/or to verify their authenticity through sites such as the I.R.S. database of charities (https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search), Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm) or Guide Star (https://www.guidestar.org/).

Never send gift cards, cryptocurrency or cash in response to phone, text or online solicitations…NEVER!

Never provide personal, banking or identifying information unless you are absolutely certain that you know the agency or individual that you are dealing with!

Lastly, visit Give.org (https://give.org) to review evaluations of the charity to which you are considering making a donation.

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