UPS phone scam in town
A possible telephone scam has a Magdalena couple concerned for their neighbors, so they went to the police to try to stop it and the media to get the word out.
Elizabeth del Giudice, a retired teacher living in the community, said she received a call Wednesday morning from a man claiming to be a representative from UPS. The caller said he needed del Giudice’s address to deliver a package.
Del Giudice said she was immediately suspicious because she wasn’t expecting any package at this time, plus deliveries in Magdalena go to Winston’s Garage. She said the supposed UPS representative did not seem at all familiar with Winston’s Garage, although it is where legitimate UPS drivers generally leave packages for Magdalena residents to pick up. She noted UPS rarely needs to bring a package directly to someone’s door in her town.
Del Giudice said the caller told her he must have her home address because the package is worth $1 million, for she had won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Again she was suspicious since she had not entered that sweepstakes this year.
The caller then told her that he needed to collect $400 from her in order to complete the delivery of her prize.
Del Giudice gave the caller neither her home address nor her credit or debit card number. Instead, she and her husband, William, went to the New Mexico State Police to report what they felt was a phone scam.
“The number one thing to remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” NMSP Lt. Jason Green said.
Green added that the biggest tip to remember about sweepstakes scams is if the caller or website is asking for money, “you have won nothing.” Legitimate sweepstakes awards do not require a deposit or any other sort of payment in order to secure delivery of the prize.
Green said many scams are constantly perpetrated via telephone and Internet, and unfortunately, many people still find them irresistible.
“We see it all the time,” Green said. “It’s kind of heartbreaking.”
Green said people should always do transactions in person, and double check everything before providing any money or card number. He noted one Internet scam claimed to hold money for people shopping on www.cars.com — but that site is a classifieds-type listing only, and does not hold money for customers.
“You have to be smart,” Green said. “You have to make sure you’re dealing with a real person.”
Green recommended looking at fraud websites posted by the federal government or the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, which provide tips on how to avoid being taken advantage of. Several links can be found at www.usa.gov/topics/consumer/scams-fraud.
One such link, www.fraud.org, advises some telemarketing pitches — such as the one attempted on the del Giudices — are blatantly fraudulent and people should know the signs. The site lists several useful tips, including:
- It is illegal for any company to ask people to pay or buy something to win a prize, or to claim that paying will increase one’s chances of winning.
- It is illegal for telemarketers to ask for a fee up front if they claim they’ll get the victim a credit card or loan, or “repair” the victim’s credit.
- It is illegal to buy and sell tickets to foreign lotteries by phone or mail.
According to www.fraud.org, other signs of fraud may be harder to recognize and include:
- Pressure to act immediately
- Refusal to send written information
- Use of scare tactics
- Demands to send payment by wire or courier
- Demands for payment of taxes or customs fees to claim a prize
- Requests for financial account numbers even though the person is not paying for something with them
- Promises to recover money one has lost in other scams, for a fee
- Claims that one can make lots of money working from home
- Refusal to stop calling when you tell them you’re not interested.
NMSP advises anyone who suspects they may have been contacted by a scam artist should report the incident to law enforcement, including NMSP, the attorney general’s office or local city police.