It seems like there is no shortage of scams going around.
The most ubiquitous racket for the last several years has been the “jury duty,” “IRS,” or “arrest” scam, where someone pretending to be a law enforcement officer calls your cell phone and says if you don’t pay a fee immediately, you will be arrested.
The latest one going around is a little more old-school: when someone posing as a roofer or a contractor drops by your house or business and offers you a really good deal on a project, demands a down payment before work begins, and then takes off.
We’ve had at least two businesses in Star approached this way in the last few weeks. In one circumstance, the scammers went to a business which had a $100,000ish construction project and offered to do the job for $24,000 – but they required a $7,000 payment up front.
The business owner was deeply skeptical, turned the people away, and later called Star Police to report what happened. Investigators did some research and determined the people who made the offer have a history of being involved in construction scams.
A good rule to follow is that if something seems too good (or in this case, too cheap) to be true, do some research and get several quotes before making a decision.
The Better Business Bureau has a whole bunch of tips on how to make sure customers don’t get taken advantage of by people pretending to represent construction companies and general contractors.
Check out https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/14081-bbb-tip-contractors-general for more info on how to protect yourself.
The latest version of the phone “arrest” scams these days can now include fake text messages – or calls that seem to come from our agency.
We’ve had at least two reports of scammers pretending to be ACSO deputies or detectives – one via text message and the other a call that appeared to be from our Records department.
(That’s known as “call spoofing” – which is when it appears a call on your cell phone is coming from a legitimate source, like the ACSO, or a family member or friend, but it’s actually a scammer. Sometimes, the calls look like they come from your own phone number).
Please know that Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies will never call and threaten to arrest you because you have an outstanding civil judgment — or missed jury duty — or have a federal arrest warrant — or anything like that.
Deputies will also never ask you to place funds for payment on a pre-paid credit card to “cancel the arrest warrant” for the fake civil judgment, or having a phony federal arrest warrant, or some other made-up charge.
In reality, if one of our deputies had to file a civil judgment or issue an arrest arrant, they would try to find you in person and leave cards with call-back numbers on them several times before calling – and that would be to set up a meet.
They will never ask you to wire or transfer money electronically. That is a sure sign of the scam.
The scammers make the calls (and text messages) over the internet with burner cell phones, making them very hard to trace.
The Better Business Bureau is aware of the racket and says people can protect themselves from becoming victims of identify theft by never giving out any personal information when getting an unsolicited phone call.
Giving out sensitive information over the phone — both personal and financial — can put you at risk for fraud.
If you have received one of these scam phone calls, contact the Ada County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 377-6790 or the Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org/us/id/boise