Chiefs Desk for Meridian


By: Meridian Police Chief Blake Johnson

It is difficult to know the cost of fraud each year. In 2021 it was estimated to be 5.8 billion dollars. The average cost to victims was around $3,000.00 each. This amount is an estimate because many people are too embarrassed to report the crime to law enforcement.

The other problem is local law enforcement are not staffed and funded well enough to investigate overseas fraud. It appears many fraudulent schemes originate in Nigeria and India. These frauds have many variations but have similar features to be aware of.

The first part is they require you to be on the phone with the scammer. It is human nature to be nice and trust a person on the phone. Most scams target older victims who are not comfortable using texting and technology. Some scams use texting so you should be weary at all times.

The next part of the scam uses gift cards. Gift cards are the currency of the scammer and once you provide the number on the back you have lost your money. The caller will usually require you to go to the store while you are on the phone and purchase cards. This will ensure you do not call anyone who could talk you out of buying the gift cards.

The most recent scam variations seen are pet location and dating services. In the pet location you will receive a call from a person pretending to represent a pet finding service. They will usually find your number from a Facebook post. They will say they have people and resources in your area and are ready to look for your pet. They will ask for a down payment with gift cards and will begin the search right away. Hang up the phone and call your local police to report this activity without delay.

The second type revolves around dating profiles. The person will text you looking to meet with you. They may send pictures and ask you to send pictures as well. They will ask for information about where you live or work. Once they have information, they will threaten to send the information to your job or family if you do not send them money. This type of victim is very embarrassed and does not usually report the threat to the police.

If you have concerns that someone is attempting to make you the victim of fraud, hang up and call your local law enforcement, financial institution, or family member. Fraud is a crime and costs all consumers billions of dollars each year.