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A Union County man reported being the victim of an attempted scam earlier this week, less than a month after a similar scam left another Union County resident with an empty bank account.

In late July, a man reported being contacted by two men posing as police officers out of Dallas, Texas, who informed him he was wanted for murder after a vehicle returning as being rented in his name was discovered with blood and cocaine inside at the United States/Mexico border.

The man said the officers told him to put all of his money into gift cards to avoid having it seized by federal authorities. He did so, splitting his bank account and credit card balance onto Google Play and Amazon gift cards, respectively.

The “officers” then asked the man to share the cards’ information with them for their record, and he did. The following day, he reported the incident to a Union County Sheriff’s officer, who informed him he’d been the victim of a scam. The gift cards’ balances were both at $0.00 by the time the man made his report.

“Most of these originate out of the country, so the only real defense is not falling for them,” said Capt. Jeff Stinson, chief investigator for the UCSO.

Stinson explained that no law enforcement agency will ever ask for money over the phone, particularly in the method the man who was scammed was. A law enforcement officer will not help one avoid the law.

On Monday, a second man reported someone attempting to scam him in a similar manner. He said he was contacted by a woman who claimed he was under investigation for illegal drug and weapon smuggling after a vehicle returning as being registered in his name was found at the U.S./Mexico border.

Another man joined the conversation and told the Union County man to check with local law enforcement and the Social Security Administration to check if his Social Security Number had been accessed by another party. They asked him to confirm his SSN over the phone, and he did.

When the callers began asking the man about his bank information, he realized he was being scammed. He reported the incident to the UCSO immediately after ending the call with the scammer.

“These type scammers will target geographic areas in clusters,” Stinson said. “They’ll get as many to fall for it as possible til people catch on and then move on.”

Stinson advised Union County residents to check for themselves when they receive a call from someone asking for money while claiming to be law enforcement.

“Hang up the phone and look up a number for the stated agency on your own; don’t take any callback number provided by them (the caller),” he said. “Call the legitimate agency and inquire. No real law enforcement agency will ask for payment of bonds or fines [this way] ever.”

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

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