>However, there isn’t much local police can do in terms of criminal prosecution
During the past couple years, as the local economy has created financial struggles for thousands of residents, Internet-related scams have increased in the Prineville area.
   The Prineville Police Department has yet to compile exact numbers, but Chief Eric Bush has noticed an uptick, particularly in fraud generated by people overseas.
   “Typically, what it involves is some sort of business deal,” he said. “We have had problems recently with rental properties. Unscrupulous people are identifying rental properties and then representing themselves as the landlord or owner via the Internet, and then trying to convince people to send them a down (payment) or deposit.”
   Bush has encountered other e-mail related scams that involve offers from websites like Craigslist, or unsolicited e-mails with too-good-to-be-true scenarios.
   For example, a person might send an e-mail to a person who says they just inherited millions of dollars. They will claim that because they are out of country, they need help paying for the paperwork to move the inheritance money to the United States. In return for covering the paperwork costs, which supposedly cost more than $1,000, they claim they will reward the person with $100,000 or more.
   “There certainly are victims out there who have lost thousands and thousands of dollars,” Bush said.
   Unlike other scams that originate within the country, Bush said the overseas scams leave law enforcement essentially unable to stop the perpetrators.
   “The challenge with these types of fraudulent incidences is there is really nothing we can do from a criminal prosecution standpoint,” he stated. “We’re just trying to educate people on these Internet scams in general.”
   Bush suspects that law enforcement may not truly know how prevalent the scams have become and how many victims have fallen prey to them.
   “My sense is there are a lot of these incidents that go unreported,” he said, ‘simply because people are embarrassed that they got taken advantage of, and they probably know there is nothing we can do about it anyway.”
   Bush warns people not to send money overseas, unless they are sending it to a reputable company that they have references for and know is legitimate.
   “If there is a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is,” he added, “particularly if it involves sending money to a place you don’t know.”
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