March 3, 2020
Carson City, NV - Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford highlights various types of imposter scams affecting Nevadans statewide. According to the Federal Trade Commission, more consumers reported fraud in Nevada than any other state in 2019, and impostor scams were the most common type of fraud reported in the State.
"Impostors do not discriminate," said AG Ford. "They have developed sophisticated strategies to target all demographics, whether it's our seniors, business owners, military families or youth. While they are often after your money, they may equally be interested in your personal information or property. All Nevadans should be alert when talking to someone they do not personally know."
Impostor scams take many forms, some of which are illustrated below:
- Grandparent scams target those with grandchildren in their early teenage years to young adult ages and preys upon their emotions. The impostor poses as the grandchild and contacts the grandparent claiming to he or she has been arrested and urgently needs bail money. The scam may be successful when the impostor convinces the grandparent not to contact the child's parents.
- Business owners are also targeted by impostors with tactics such as the unordered office supplies scam. In this case, someone calls a business to verify an address, offer a free catalog or confirm a recent shipment was received. Then days or weeks later, unordered merchandise arrives and the impostor calls again to demand payment of supplies that were never ordered. The business owner may have trouble recalling the details of their first conversation, especially when the impostor is making aggressive demands or threatening legal action. Sometimes the imposter simply sends a random invoice and demands payment.
- Recently discharged military veterans may be the target of employment scams, in which the scammer impersonates a potential employer that found the veteran's profile on a popular job board such as LinkedIn. After an interview, the impostor "hires" the veteran and instructs them to purchase work equipment through a website they operate, with the promise of reimbursement. However, the equipment never arrives and the reimbursement check bounces.
- Even youth are the targets of impostors on various social media platforms, who may offer free or discounted merchandise, college scholarships, or may initiate private, romantic discussions. In each case, the scammer obtains personal information that might be used in the future to open false credit accounts in the victim's name. Impostors that appear to have romantic interests may persuade the youth to send intimate photographs, which can then be used to extort money to prevent their publication.
In each case, consumers can take several simple but effective actions to minimize their chance of falling victim to these scams:
- Never volunteer any personal information to someone you do not personally know;
- Be suspicious if the person contacting you resists your request to meet in person before making a decision;
- Don't be afraid to end the conversation, especially if the conversation creates a sense of urgency. Impostors are counting on their scare tactics to persuade you to act without thinking. If the person contacting you is legitimate, then they will likely contact you again. In the meantime, you can talk to family and friends or do online research for any reports about scams based on the information you were provided.
- If someone is contacting you about an existing account, ask them to verify details about your account, such as your account number and the dates and amounts of recent payments; and
- Avoiding using a prepaid debit card or gift card to send money to someone you do not know.
More information about National Consumer Protection Week is available here. Consumers looking for information to protect themselves from scams may visit the Office of the Nevada Attorney General's website and the Federal Trade Commission's website.
The Office of the Nevada Attorney General welcomes information about all scams, and consumers who may have fallen victim to a scam may file complaints with our office here.