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County sheriff puts out scam warning

This is not the time to drop one’s guard to possible scams, Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk said Tuesday.

Lusk’s warning came after his office received complaints from several people who reported receiving telephone calls from someone claiming to be from the sheriff’s office.

The male caller says “I am from the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Office and there are warrants for your arrest. You are required to pay $5,000 immediately or face incarceration,” according to Lusk.

The caller “then directs the individual to a UPS store to send the money. The caller sometimes identifies himself at ‘Lt. Garber’ and further makes several statements such as: ‘There is a warrant for your arrest because you have failed to report for court’ or ‘You must pay a bail,'” Lusk said.

The calls are bogus, Lusk said.

“The intention of the scammer is to access your bank account information, PayPal-type account number or personal credit card number. The caller wants to scare the resident into paying a certain amount,” he said.

“Before you give anyone your personal information, always calls the agency the caller purports to be. In this case, please call the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Office at 570-327-2280” and press zero once the recording come on,” Lusk said.

Here are some helpful safeguards offered by Lusk that one should use:

• Under no circumstances should a resident ever provide personal information by telephone when receiving any calls unless one personally knows the caller.

• Never provide credit card information, a social security number, date of birth or bank information to any call unless you know them personally.

• If you have caller ID, write down the number and document the time of the call.

• Disconnect without providing any personal information.

• The sheriff’s office does not make calls to people who are wanted.

Lusk said “Criminals are able to access much of our personal information simply with the use of a computer if they have some information.”

Anyone who has already received such a bogus call from the sheriff’s office is asked to call the county sheriff’s office and alert them.

Lusk encourages others to share this warning with family members and friends “in an effort to prevent them from becoming a victim.”

Federal authorities this week also warned against another type of scam.

People should report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19, according to U.S. Middle District Attorney David J. Freed.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline is (1-866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.

Examples of fraud include:

• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for the virus online

• Phishing emails from entities posting as the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Malicious websites and apps sharing virus- related information but trying to gain access payment

• The seeking of donations for charitable or non-existing organizations during the pandemic

• Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

Mark Maroney, Sun-Gazette staff, contributed to this story