Medford, Ore. — You hear about them all the time, a laundry list of different scams aimed at guilting you, scaring you, or even romancing you into sending money to a stranger. Sometimes the only defense against scammers is awareness, and even then, they’re finding creative new ways to make you a victim.
Laurence Cooper knows all too well what lengths a scam artist will go to. He said, “You might want to get a little more evidence that they are who they say they are, or check Facebook and make sure they even exist.”
After leaving the army, Cooper was looking for a job, and he found one as a personal assistant that seemed to be a good fit. “Contacted the man, he responded back and gave me a rundown of what the job was supposed to be, and basically had assignments for me to do first off,” said Cooper.
After finding a new office, and completing a few more tasks for his new boss, Cooper was paid. “13,700 dollars,” he said. Six months payment, in advance. Cooper was ecstatic. His new position was already paying off big time.
“I celebrated, spent 100 bucks that I didn’t have because I got this check and pulled 100 dollars out of it, thankfully i didn’t pull out more,” Cooper said.
But as with most things that seem too good to be true. He said, “After five days the check hadn’t cleared. I asked what was going on, the bank manager then brought me over and explained that there is something funky about the check.”
The check was a fraud, luckily when Cooper found out the truth. Cooper said, “He then started sending me harassing emails’’
He was only out $100 and a few weeks of his time. Cooper said, “I was quite sure he was trying to get the bank to clear the check or for me to wire money I had to these individuals, which I’m assuming are his partners or actually is him and he was using a fake address.”
When the public becomes aware of the scams that are out there the scammers have to get more creative, and when that happens, not even law enforcement officers themselves are safe.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Captain Nathan Sickler says scammers have been using his name to frighten people into paying up to avoid jail time. “I ended up speaking to one of the suspects in the case where they were actually impersonating me, calling to say they were Captain Sickler of the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We did have on individual fall victim to this last year, ended up losing $1,500.”
So he called the scammers back and got a glimpse into their world. Captain Sickler said, “Basically that’s how they lived, they scam people for a living, they pay their bills, as he described it, that’s how they ate.”
Even so, it was impossible to find the scammers, who Captain Sickler says may very well be overseas, so the sheriff’s office used the only weapon they had. “In this case awareness is going to be the best defense we have against those who try to take advantage of others,” said Sickler. Awareness that makes the difference between staying secure and losing everything.
These scams have gotten so out of control that even Oregon’s Attorney General has been the target of scammers.