Lt. Stephen Billinger of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office talked about crime prevention and how people can protect themselves on Wednesday during a Stop ‘N Learn session hosted by the Great Bend Recreation Commission.
“People (should) understand how to prevent crime and what to do if you fall victim to a scam,” Billinger said. “We see quite a few cases of different types of scams in Barton County and it is good that they are being reported to us.”
Identity theft, internet fraud and ponzi schemes have all been committed in Barton County, along with telemarketing fraud, which often targets senior citizens. So-called “romance scams” are less common here, but there has been a case in Barton County, Billinger said.
“There are many different types of scams out there and it is important to understand what they are and how they work,” he said. “The people that commit these scams are professionals in what they do and they will try anything to get money or personal information like your credit card or debit card numbers, Social Security numbers and other information from you.”
According to the BCSO, here are some scams to watch out for here in Barton County.
• Identity theft — Identity theft is a crime where a thief steals personal information, such as your full name or social security number, to commit fraud. The identity thief can use this information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services.
• Internet fraud — Internet fraud is the use of internet services or software with internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them. Internet crime schemes steal millions of dollars each year.
• Ponzi scams — “Ponzi” schemes promise high financial returns or dividends not available through traditional investments. Instead of investing the funds of victims, however, the con artist pays “dividends” to initial investors using the funds of subsequent investors.
The scheme generally falls apart when the operator flees with all of the proceeds or when a sufficient number of new investors cannot be found to allow the continued payment of “dividends.”
• Telemarketing fraud for seniors — If you are age 60 or older and especially if you are an older woman living alone you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations.
• Romance scams — Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.
For more information about scams in Barton County contact the BCSO by calling 620-793-1876.