In our WSAV Crime Tracker report – we're looking at financial fraud. That can include scams and schemes whether in person, over the phone or over the internet – intended to separate you from your money. it's a crime that happens year-round and police say there's often not a lot they can do after the fact– so they continue to warn the public.
Reported fraud in the Metro area is currently down from numbers the past two years.
In 2011 – there had been 601 cases by December 2nd. Last year – 631. But so far this year – only 574 through Tuesday. But you should never let your guard down. We told you the story of one News 3 viewer almost taken in by the “Grandparent Scam” a couple of weeks ago. Someone claiming to be her granddaughter called Nell Veale – said she'd been arrested following a car wreck – and needed money wired to pay for damages before she would be released. Veale was on her way to wire the money before deciding to call her granddaughter and discovering the story was fake.
Metro Financial Crimes Detective Ray Woodberry says that's one of two scams that have been hitting the area pretty hard. The other is the “Sweepstakes Scam.” Potential victims will get a large check in the mail that claims they've won a sweepstakes and this is an advance to cover processing fees. Det. Woodberry says, “They want you to go to your bank – deposit it in there – and they want you to wire the money to them. If you do that, you're going to lose $4500 – and the banks gonna want their money.” Once that check turns out to be counterfeit.
The frustrating thing for authorities is that there's often not a lot they can do besides warn people to be careful, verify who you're talking to and never send money. That's because the crime is often being conducted from overseas with information gleaned from your activity on the internet. “If you've entered a sweepstakes or you've applied for employment online or anything like that – Google tags that and they sell that information and anybody can buy that information,”says Det. Woodberry.
If you received a communication like those we've mentioned, but didn't fall for it – Metro Police say you can still call them to report it so they can keep tabs on what's going on in the community. You can also report it to the “National White Collar Crime Center”. We've provided a link.