05/28/10 – Identity Theft Protection

​Some of the ways criminals use identity theft for financial gain are obtaining credit card accounts, opening utility services, creating counterfeit checks, making ATM withdrawals, obtaining a car or personal loan, obtaining government benefits or student loans, and the list goes on.

Some of the ways you can help reduce or prevent identity theft are to use good consumer knowledge and use only reputable businesses.  One way to find if a business is using good practices is refer to the Better Business Bureau web site at BBB.org.  You can research local businesses for fraudulent complaints.  Second, you should never provide you personal information via the internet unless the site is secure.  To verify if a site is secure, you should be able to locate a “padlock” icon in the lower right hand corner of the web page, or located in the right hand corner of the web address bar.  Last, and the most important, is to never allow anyone to have or use your credit cards, debit cards or checks.  While you may be comfortable with the person using them in a particular instance, it will could possibly leave you liable for any losses after that point should they use them again without your permission.  Remember to destroy all discarded mail and bills with your personal and credit information.  A shredder is the best means of destroying this type of paperwork.      

The Virginia Beach Economic Crimes Unit suggests that if you or any family member is a victim of Identity Theft you should report it in the city for which you call your residence.  To further assist the detective in investigating your case, you will need to complete the following when you are ready to file the report with the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Alert the bank regarding the fraud immediately. The banking institution will put you in contact with a fraud investigator assigned to that bank. Normally you will be asked to file a report with your local police agency. The bank will then have you sign an affidavit of facts related to your case and may refund your account for the losses.
If you have further information or wish to report these types of cases please call the Economic Crimes Unit at 385-8101.

04/27/10 – Check Cashing Scams

​The Virginia Beach Economic Crimes Unit asks that you be very careful when cashing third party checks.  Individuals whom you do not know may approach you and ask if you will cash a check for them.  Normally they explain that they received a check from a relative but they do not have an account nor do they have proper ID to cash the check. 

They will ask if you will cash the check for them and they will allow you to keep $50 or more for cashing the check.  You take the check to your bank and deposit it and receive cash back for your new friend.  Three days later your bank will notify you that the check is counterfeit.  Your account will be debited the full amount of the check sometimes as much as $1000.  You will be required to pay back the bank the full amount.  You are now a victim of a fraud by trick.

The Virginia Beach Economic Crimes Unit suggests that no one cash a third party check or any check for someone that you do not know.  Most likely you will get burned ever time and lose a lot of hard earned cash in the process.
If you have further information or wish to report these types of cases please call the Economic Crimes Unit at 385-8101.
03/11/10 – On Line Real Estate Scams
​Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate on-line. The Virginia Beach Police Department continues to receive complaints from individuals who have become victim of scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate on-line.
Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted by a potential renter. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.
Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker's real name to create a fake email, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an email through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The "owner" claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.
If you have further information or wish to report these types of cases please call the Economic Crimes Unit at 385-8101.
02/8/10-Avoiding Internet Auction Fraud
​The following information was received from the FBI web site in reference to what to watch for when bidding on auction items via the internet.
Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
  • Find out what actions the web site/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
  • Examine the feedback on the seller.
  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
  • If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult if the seller is located outside the US because of the difference in laws.
  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and if there is a problem with the merchandise is it covered by a warranty or can you exchange it.
  • Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price or are additional costs so there are no unexpected costs.
  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.
If you suspect a fraud has occurred contact the Virginia Beach Economic Crimes Unit at 385-8101 to report this crime.
01/20/10 - Warning: Beware of bogus check scams
​We're filing reports on a daily bases for bogus check scams. Citizens are cashing the bogus checks into their banks.  Normally they keep 10% and wire the remaining amount to the perpetrator not realizing they've been scammed. After 3-5 days the check returns as a bad check or counterfeit. The citizen’s account is then debited by their bank and they are liable to the bank for remaining amount.
The scam is so rampant in Virginia Beach right now; investigators are warning residents... do not cash any 3rd party checks, unless you know for sure who it's from.
The Virginia Beach Police Department ECU contacted the local new agencies and asked for this information to be provided to the local listening area.
If you have further information or wish to report these types of cases please call the Economic Crimes Unit at 385-8101.
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