Crime Watch 8

Police have little leverage as reports of scams rise

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – From phony job offers to IRS scams, the number of people claiming to have been the victim of a potential scam is on the rise.

A number of public safety officials told 24-Hour News 8 they would love to throw the book at the people behind the scams, but it’s almost impossible to do.

“I didn’t believe it, I was kind of upset – worried, frustrated.” Greenwood resident Courtney Huey said.

Huey was almost the victim of a scam, and now she’s afraid to answer the phone.

“I went in and called the cops immediately.” Huey said.

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Huey isn’t alone, and law enforcement has little ability to help victims like her.

“On a lot of these scams, the most we can do for these types of individuals is assist them in taking the police report,” Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said.

Johnson County is one of many counties in Central Indiana experiencing a rise in fraud this year. More than 170 scams were reported through the middle of August in Johnson County alone.

“We can take the report. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much investigating is done on those.” Cox said.

That’s because in most cases, the scammers are out of state or overseas. The case then goes on to the FBI.

“We can’t get a warrant for somebody over in Jamaica or wherever this call is coming from, so that’s where we get the federal government involved.” Cox said. “To be honest with you, I think the FBI will step on some cases but a lot of those cases have to be for large sums of money.”

So Huey’s case will probably go nowhere.

At five months pregnant and looking for a second job, she posted her resume online and quickly received an email from a man named Scott.

“Saying that he needed someone to help out his mother in the home, a caregiver position, someone compassionate to help her (with) shopping and cleaning the house.” Huey said.

In the email Scott wrote, “The pay, 500 a week. The hours, 6 a day, 4 days a week.”

And, of course, Scott lives out of state. He even wrote they needed her to be “honest and trustworthy”.

“He was going to send me a check with my first week’s pay on there, and then an extra $1,000 that I would need to give to her apartment for her first month’s rent,” Huey said. “So he sent me the check, and I was like, ‘I better not cash that because I don’t know where that money is coming from or anything.'”

And that’s when she called the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

“She would take that check to the bank, it will clear. It would go into the bank for about a week.” Sheriff Cox said. “So not only will they send a check to the scammer on the other end that will get cashed but the bank is going to be knocking on that victim’s door wanting compensation for that check that was bad.”

Luckily, Huey didn’t fall for it.

“When the baby gets here we’ll be prepared, we’ll save extra. Yeah, I quit the job search after that.” Huey said.

Sheriff Cox said this is not just a problem in Johnson County. It happens all over the state and even the country. In fact, the FBI says in the past two years, more than $1.2 billion was stolen in online

scams alone.Click here for common online and phone scams. To find out how you can avoid becoming a victim of these types of scams, click here.

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