(WIVB) – The Niagara County Sheriff wants you to know about a wave of consumer scams that are sweeping through Western New York.
One of those ripoffs poses as a popular high-tech repair service, and Sheriff Michael Filicetti says they have stopped some of the bad guys in their tracks.
Crooks posing as the “Geek Squad” – Best Buy’s team of repair technicians – is one of Western New York’s newer ripoffs. The scheme revolves around Geek Squad subscriptions. Best buy’s Geek Squad is a service that many of the store’s customers go with – and their popularity has drawn the attention of criminals.
The scam starts with an email to renew a Geek Squad subscription, that has been overcharged.
“They start to solicit bank information or private information from you,” Filicetti said. “People have given that information, the bank information, in an effort to try to fix this error.”
The scammers then use the account information to offer a refund – but Sheriff Filicetti told us the scam emails are usually easy to spot. They’ll have unusual verbiage such as “admired user”, writing “this mail” rather than “email” and mistakes or misspellings such as “Next three year,” not plural with an “S”.
“They send a refund and they send the wrong amount in the refund,” Filicetti said. “Then essentially what they are asking you to do is fix that refund by sending them the money out of your bank account, in whatever dollar amount and some of them have been very large, over $22,000 in one instance, over $7,000 in one instance.”
Filicetti told us, banks have intervened to stop the Geek Squads from stealing folks’ money, but the grandparents scams have been harder to stop. The callers know what to say to an elderly victim.
“It is your grandson or your granddaughter, ‘I am in jail.,’ and what do you say? ‘Is this Bobby, is this Jennifer?’ You give them the name, and then they start saying, ‘I was in an accident,’ or ‘I’ve had a cold, I don’t sound like I normally do,” he said.
But Filicetti told us the key to avoiding a phone or internet scam is understanding what a legitimate business would know about you.
“Your credit card, your bank account information, your date of birth – anything that is personalized to you, don’t give it to them, those organizations already have it.”
Filicetti says the simplest way to avoid any kind of scam – by phone, email, or text message – is looking up the retailer and checking out their customer service number or email yourself.
And he said, law enforcement never asks for bail money, for a family member, over the phone.