Technology sparks dramatic rise in scams reported to the Lincoln Police Dept. – 1011now

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 5:06 pm

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Scammers call on the phone, send text messages and even track people down on social media.

It's annoying to most, but for those who fall victim scammers cause more than a headache.

For Arthur Lindsay, it started with a text message.

"Offering me an opportunity to advertise Haagen Daz ice cream with a decal on his car," Lindsay said.

Lindsay told 10/11 NOW he had been looking for some extra money, so he signed up.

The scammer sent him a check, which he deposited into his bank account.

"I asked the clerk, is this check real and she said it was," Lindsay said.

The money even showed up in his account, so at the scammer's request, he sent more than $900 of his own money to the scammer.

Then a few days later, the check bounced.

"The first thing is you feel so stupid, I thought I had protected myself," Lindsay said.

Stories like this, don't come as a surprise to Lincoln Police.

"We could work those probably every day, there are so many we get overwhelmed," Sgt. Steven Wiese with LPD's technical investigations unit said.

In 2018, 1,958 frauds were reported to police. In the last 20 years, that number has increase 122 percent. Meanwhile, forgeries have dropped significantly. In 2018 about a seventh of the number of forgeries were reported as were reported in 1998.

LPD's crime analyst, Jeff Peterson, said it all comes down to technology.

"People just don't write checks anymore," Peterson said. "Everybody has access to the internet and you have people who will abuse the internet and take advantage of mistakes that others make on the internet."

Messages like Lindsay got, phone calls threatening people with arrest warrants and romance scams are among the most common frauds the department sees. They're also the most difficult to solve.

"By and large, these individuals are overseas," Wiese said. "They've used that as a safety net because they know their country may not cooperate with law enforcement in the United States."The best thing you can do is prevent yourself from falling victim.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't," Lindsay said.

If you've been the victim of a fraud, forgery or scam, call police at 402-441-6000. You can also reach out to the Nebraska Attorney General's Office at the following website: https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/ or call their mediation center between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.: (800) 727-6432 (toll-free)

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Technology sparks dramatic rise in scams reported to the Lincoln Police Dept. - 1011now

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