Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fort Thomas Police Lieutenant Is Targeted By Internet Scam Artists

Lt. Rich Whitford, Fort Thomas Police Department. FTM file. 
Lt. Rich Whitford of the Fort Thomas Police Department goes out of his way to warn the citizens he helps protect of the occasion scam that sometimes targets Fort Thomas.

But when an internet scammer emailed his city police email address, posing as an IRS agent, he learned firsthand that it's simply a numbers games for these thieves.

"I had just filled out my taxes and I guess I was one of the lucky ones these thieves were targeting. If they send out a million emails, they hope that a small number fall for their scam," said Whitford. "The email said that I was the victim of identity theft and they wanted me to verify and send some information back to them. It was from IRS.gov and I was getting ready to hit 'return' then I thought I better look into this." 

Whitford's one takeaway:


"The IRS will never send you an email." 

He said he can understand how someone might be fooled.

"The email looked official. It looked professional. It looked like it was from IRS.gov and I had just had my personal taxes done the week prior, so I really did think that my information had been compromised. I thought it was too perfect to be a coincidence."

Whitford said that because many of these internet scam artists are from other countries, it's difficult to stop them, let alone prosecute them. He said the best measure is knowledge and prevention.

"If you are scammed, please call us. We are always looking for the next scam to try and inform our residents to protect them. If you think you are the victim of a new scam, please let us know. This was new to me. These scam artists don't discriminate and they obviously aren't careful enough to realize they are sending these emails to police department addresses," he said.

Whitford said that there were a lot of cases like this that was reported around this time last year in Fort Thomas.

Whitford also said another scam that is hitting the area right now is one where a resident will be mailed a check that looks official and is told to cash it. When they do cash it, the check bounces and person who deposits the check will be responsible for the deposit.

"The banks are cashing these checks, which have been in the amount of $2,200. If you get a check and you don't know who it's from, don't cash it. Call us," he said.

You can call Fort Thomas Police at 859-441-6562.

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