- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Scams to bilk people out of thousands of dollars are seemingly becoming more popular in Calvert County.
Cory Hand said a letter that was not sealed in an envelope appeared Aug. 20 in her mother’s mailbox on Broomes Island Road stating there was fraudulent activity at her post office. “It was just a piece of white paper” that provided a number to call to check her credit status to make sure nobody had gained access to her account, Hand said.
Hand said her mother, Margaret Pilkins, 70, “almost” called the number because she was “scared” but did not, and instead gave the letter to her daughter.
“She told me about it and I dialed the number. They wanted her Social Security number,” Hand said.
She did not give out her mother’s Social Security number and, thinking there was “something wrong” with the post office, Hand said she went to the Prince Frederick Post Office to file a complaint. The manager told her that they did not put the letter in Pilkins’ mailbox, she said, and would not send a letter to someone that was not in an envelope.
Had Pilkins not mentioned the letter to her daughter, she may have been a victim of a scam, which Hand said worried her.
“She trusts things that come in her mail are real, and obviously somebody is coming around putting this information in the mailbox,” Hand said, adding that a lot of elderly people in the county could fall victim to a similar scam and lose a lot of money or have their identities stolen.
Lt. Steve Jones of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office said while he has not seen any reports of attempted scams through letters in mailboxes, a “big scam” happening in the county is when a purchase is made through Craigslist or eBay and a cashier’s check for more than the amount agreed upon is sent to the seller.
One man was selling an item on the Internet for $1,500, Jones said, and when he sold the item, he received a cashier’s check for $3,500. After the man deposited the check, which looks like an actual cashier’s check to the bank, the buyer claimed they made a mistake and sent too much money and wanted the amount they overpaid sent back to them, Jones said.
After the man reimbursed the buyer, the cashier’s check bounced, Jones said. The man had just lost $1,500 and the item he was trying to sell to a scammer.
“I think it’s attempted a lot,” Jones said, adding that there are about 20 to 30 reports of this type of fraud each year.
Sometimes, scams can happen to people who are trying to sell something, too, Jones said, and most of the time the scam is being run overseas. He cautioned people against accepting money transfers through Western Union for an item.
“I’d be very wary of that,” he said, adding that it is more secure to use PayPal because tracking money is easier.
Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said he has seen a rise in the amount of fraud reports where scammers are attempting to coerce people into giving out their credit card or Social Security numbers.
“Anything suspicious that doesn’t sound right, call us, and we’ll give you the best advice we can,” Evans said. “Don’t give out information freely. The bad guys are always thinking of something different, a way to trick you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”