Scam alert

An Aledo couple was recently targeted in a money scam where they were asked to purchase Target gift cards over the weekend, according to the Parker County Sheriff's Office.

Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said the man and woman were at the Aledo CVS check-out Saturday morning purchasing the gift cards under the direction of a scam suspect, when Sheriff’s Fraud Investigator Clifford Boltwood was alerted to the suspicious phone conversation.

Boltwood is familiar with the tactics used by suspects who fraudulently obtain money from innocent people through various scams and recognized the method, according to the sheriff's office.

“The victims are typically contacted, be it by e-mail, postal service or phone calls,” Fowler said. “In this case, the victims were initially contacted by text message.”

According to the sheriff's office, the suspect, who was a female with a heavy foreign accent, eventually convinced the couple to contact her by phone, telling the victims that unknown persons had purchased a $7,000 television, charging it to their Amazon account. In order for the victims to have the purchase removed from their account, the suspect told the victims they were required to purchase five Target gift cards valued at $500 each and read her the numbers on the back of the card.

Boltwood interrupted the couple when they had purchased one gift card, and were attempting to purchase the remaining cards, according to the sheriff's office. The couple’s banking institution denied the second purchase for exceeding the allowable funds within a 24-hour period.

“CVS has a screen notification disclaimer advising the purchaser of fraud risks, and advises not to send money or buy gift cards for unknown individuals,” Boltwood said. “Customers must acknowledge the notification before they can proceed with their transaction. The man stated he saw the warning, but truly believed the female suspect on the phone was an actual Amazon representative and that he was in danger of being charged $7,000 without the gift card purchases.”

Fowler said this is a typical ruse of suspects attempting to scam people of their money.

“These suspects are very convincing,” Fowler said. “Luckily, our investigator interjected before the couple read the card numbers to the suspect, sparing them from losing any money. It pleases me to see our deputies are watching out for the public 24/7, and not just when they are on the clock in uniform.”

Although the victims will not receive a refund for the gift card they had already purchased, they will be able to use the gift card for their own shopping needs, according to the sheriff's office.

Fowler is cautioning the public of fraudulent calls, e-mails and text messages. Suspects will “spoof” the number they are calling from; your Caller ID will display the call is coming from Amazon, E-bay or Texas State Of … appearing that they are calling from an actual agency or business.

“Businesses and governmental agencies will never contact you asking for money by purchasing gift cards,” Fowler said. “This is a definite red flag. Anytime you feel you are being scammed, simply hang up.”

According to the sheriff's office, residents are urged to directly contact the business or agency to verify suspicious charges or activity and report the incident to your local law enforcement agency.

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