Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Zachary White

The art of avoiding the scam artist


We hear about it every day.

A woman bought a car online and paid a $500 deposit only to find out the car never existed, and her money is gone.

A man wired money to his son’s attorney only to find out his son hadn’t even been arrested, and his money is gone.

A person bought a thoroughbred work dog only to find out the dog doesn’t exist, and their money is gone.

Police chief Steve Shay explained it best.

He said there is a high chance the people running internet and phone scams will never be caught.

The reason?

Local authorities don’t have the manpower or the resources to track these scams down, and they don’t have the authority to cross state lines. When scams cross state lines they become a federal offense.

Federal authorities have other priorities to attend to. Unless the same scam is happening frequently there isn’t likely to be enough information to even chase down the perpetrator.

As citizens, we have to take care of ourselves.

When a great deal appears in front of your eyes, be more aggressive when making sure you fact check. Is the seller reliable? How much information is out there about them?

Use the Internet to find out if a company is legitimate. Just type in the company name and the words reliable or scam. If you can’t, ask someone to help you look.

Check the way you pay. If someone asks for a wire transfer, a red light needs to go off in your head. Try to pay in a way that leaves a paper trail.

Be cautious when paying up front. Some people will want a deposit, but the way you pay it could leave you out money. Try to avoid paying for something if the item to be bought isn’t given to you when money is transferred.

Do not reply to messages asking for personal or financial information. It doesn't matter what form the request comes in; if you haven't reached out to them then weariness may be the best option.

Do not deposit a check and wire money back to the sender. If you deposit a fake check, you're responsible for the money owed to the bank.

Scam artists can be convincing, but try to use a level head.

Just remember, whatever the situation, no matter how dire it seems or lucky you feel, a scam always pushes you to do something without checking the facts.

The easiest way to avoid being victim to a scam is to seek outside advice.

Law enforcement is trained to pick out what is real and what is fake and their advice will quite possibly help you keep your hard earned money.


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