Maynard Police Department warns residents of scams and offers advice

For immediate release

MAYNARD – Chief Michael Noble and the Maynard Police Department want to share tips to protect the community from online scammers after a resident was targeted earlier this week.

The resident received a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, reporting that there was a problem with the woman’s Social Security number. The caller said the problem could be solved by sending the government a large sum via Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is an encrypted virtual currency. Transactions are anonymous.

The woman traveled to a nearby town to deposit the money in a Bitcoin ATM. The ATM malfunctioned during the transaction. A clerk recognized the transaction as a scam and the police in that city were notified. It is unlikely that the deposited money will be recovered.

“New scams are created all the time, but scammers follow the same playbook: they create a crisis, prey on people’s fears and want their money right away,” Chief Noble said. “We ask residents who receive calls like this to take a moment, think about the situation, and call us immediately if there is a problem.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following four signs to help people recognize possible scams:

  • The scammers claim to belong to an organization you know. They can use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some claim to be from a company you know, such as a utility company, tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.
  • Scammers say there is a problem or a price. They might say you’re in trouble with the government, you owe money, a family member has had an emergency, or there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there is a problem with one of your accounts and you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say that you won money in a lottery or a contest, but you have to pay a fee to get it.
  • Scammers push you to act immediately. They might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, revoke your driver’s license or business license, or deport you. They might say that your computer is about to be corrupted.
  • Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (which later turns out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.

Maynard Police also remind residents that legitimate organizations do not request payment by gift card, prepaid debit card or money transfer service. This should be a significant red flag. Prepaid debit cards and gift cards are not a legitimate way to pay for goods and services. They cannot be traced and once the funds have been transferred, the money cannot be recovered.

Additionally, residents are reminded never to give out personal information, especially social security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

The FTC also recommends that if you receive an email or text message from a company you do business with that you believe is real, it’s always best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy or look up their phone number. Do not call a number they gave you or your caller ID number.

Report any type of scam or fraud you detect at ftc.gov/complaint, or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP. For more information on scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website or the state website.

Anyone with questions or who thinks they have been a victim is encouraged to call the Maynard Police Department at 978-897-1011.

About Geraldine Higgins

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