By Chad Koenen
Much like the world around us, scammers have evolved over the years. What was once an easy endeavor in identifying potential scams, unless of course you are expecting an inheritance from a Nigerian prince, have been replaced by extremely personal scams concerning things like their Amazon account. No one is really immune from scams, including people living in the greater Henning area.
A recent Amazon scam almost resulted in a local person losing out on hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, had it not been for the quick thinking of Sarah Douglas of Dollar General in Henning. Douglas recently identified what turned out to be a phone scam for a customer.
“She had asked me about Amazon gift cards and then she got Google cards,” said Douglas.
Since Dollar General didn’t have Amazon gift cards at the time, the customer started purchasing Google gift cards instead. As she began ringing up the customer, Douglas said something didn’t feel right about what was going on. The customer was on the phone with a person and eventually asked if she should call the police.
“He was on the phone with her the whole time,” she said. “I just chalk it up to the training videos.”
When Henning Police Chief Mike Helle came to the store, the potential scammer was still on the phone with the customer. Helle tried to ask the scammer some questions, but the person immediately hung up the phone when he heard the word police. He tried to call the number back but to no avail.
“Sarah picked up on it and she called us. When I got down there they were still on the phone,” said Helle. “I said can I talk to him?”
Helle said the scam, which resulted in the customer purchasing a number of gift cards, was a classic Amazon scam. As part of the scam, a person is contacted to say they owe money on their Amazon account. The person is instructed to purchase gift cards to cover the overdue amount and give the person on the other end of the phone the codes on the back of the gift card.
In many cases the scammer may even be able to tell a person their last few purchases or deeply personal information about their Amazon account.
While the local customer purchased quite a few Google gift cards, they ultimately were not out any money as the scammer was never able to get the person to relay the identification numbers of the card over the phone. Even though getting a scam phone call may be scary, Helle said if something sounds too good to be true it probably is and hang up the phone.
“If it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” he said.
With scams on the rise across the region, Helle said people should not call back the phone number and get off the phone as quick as possible. People should contact the police department to let them know what the potential scammer said so the authorities can track the trends of scam calls.
“Don’t call them back because once you get into their database you will be in their database forever,” he said.