Police urge extra diligence to fight Internet scams

The Bellingham Police Department issued a warning to residents last week urging extra caution and diligence in the face of increasingly sophisticated Internet scams.

Department officials said they continue receiving reports from members of the community who have been victims of scams, as well as residents who have been contacted by scammers but have avoided becoming victims themselves.

Although scams and cons are nothing new, scammers today can use the Internet to reach thousands of potential victims without having to make direct contact or even live in the same town or country as the people they are attempting to target, police said.

In their warning, police highlighted several examples of common scams sent by email:

– A relative has been jailed, or is seriously sick or injured! You need to wire money immediately.

– You have just won a lottery and need to send a fee so that your winnings can be sent to you.

– You are seeking a job and find a listing for Craigslist.  When you apply for the job you find out that it has been filled BUT there is a “personal assistant” job available.  The con artist will send you a check and ask that you cash it and wire money to other people.  You get to keep some of the money as your pay.  You are expected to use your own bank and your personal accounts to complete these transactions. Your accounts can be emptied by these crooks!

More information on specific situations can be found online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.

Bellingham residents who believe they are being targeted by scammers can make reports with the police department’s public service officer at 360-778-8804 (this is a non-emergency line monitored between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays).


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