News from 555 Gearhart Road: How to avoid scams

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — It’s a four letter word that Shelby County residents don’t want to hear: Scam.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, said Chief Deputy Jim Frye, is investigating two scams in the county. Frye is filling in for Sheriff John Lenhart for his weekly interview with the newspaper.

“On Sept. 25, we had one of the calls come in about a scam,” said Frye. “The call went to a local lady, who was told her granddaughter had been arrested for DUI and was in the Shelby County Jail. The caller ran her through the wringer I’m a little surprised she did as they asked.”

The caller told the grandmother that she needed to post her granddaughter’s bond. It was for $6,000 and they wanted it in cash. They instructed her to put it in a brown envelope and send it via Fed Ex to an address out of state,” said Frye. “And she did it.”

Frye said the sheriff’s office has done numerous news releases about scams, which included tips on how to avoid the fraudulent calls.

“We keep doing press releases and people keep falling for scams,” said Frye.

He said they received a report on Sept. 27 of a resident receiving a letter from Kroger that would pay them for an evaluation of the business. The letter contained a check made out to the person for them to cash, said Frye.

“Luckily the person knew it was a scam and they turned it into the postal service,” he said.

The letter told the recipient that if they took the survey they could cash the check.

“Then they told the person they would have to send a certain amount of the check back to the sender, who knows the check will bounce,” said Frye. “The inured party will be out of the whole amount of the check.”

These two scams, said Frye were received within the past week.

“During my law enforcement career, the worst one I’ve dealt with was where the victim went to the bank and had a $7,500 cashiers check made. They sent it to the address as instructed.

“The person came to us and we were able to get the check stopped so she wouldn’t lose her hard-earned money,” said Frye. “But then she stopped the stop payment on the check and went out.”

The scammer, said Frye, contacted the woman again and said they hadn’t received the check, so she sent out another $7,500 check. She was out $15,000.”

Frye said he was able to track down the guy who used five different banks overseas to handle the transactions. He was tracked down in Canada but they were unable to get the woman’s money back.

“People come to us to take action after they’ve been scammed,” said Frye. “Nine times out of 10 we can’t get their money back.”

Frye said the scammers will put pressure on the person, demanding they make a decision right now on sending the money. He urges all residents to take a step back if they receive a phone call asking for money before sending out any cash.

“They can do a little bit of investigating themselves,” said Frye. “They should call and find out if the family member is at home. They should always call the person before they act.”

Signs that the phone call or letter is a scam include:

• Wiring money to a stranger or a friend in need.

“The grandmother who sent the money for her granddaughter, talked to three different people,” said Frye. “The original caller, a person who sounded like her granddaughter and a third person who told her where to send the package.

“Later they asked her to send an additional $9,000,” said Frye. “Thank goodness she caught on and didn’t send the additional money.”

• Becoming a mystery shopper when you haven’t applied for the job.

• Receiving requests to purchase a prepaid money card.

• Receiving a letter or email stating you’ve won the lottery and to receive your prize, you must pay a fee to receive the money.

• Identify theft can start with a scam. The caller will say your bank card has been compromised and that you need to verify personal information.

“If it is the bank calling, they’ll ask you a security code question.

• It’s the IRS calling and you’re going to be arrested for not paying your taxes. The IRS sends out letters dealing with taxes and doesn’t call the taxpayer.

• The caller claims they can repair your credit.

• The caller claims they can stop foreclosure on your residence.

• Home improvement fraud.

• Phony charities seeking donations.

Ohio’s Attorney General’s office has a SAFE — Senior Advocate Fraud Education — program, said Frye. A pamphlet is available online and can be downloaded at

“Do not trust the caller ID on your phone,” said Frye. “People in Shelby County have been getting phone calls from 498-1111, which is the sheriff’s office phone number. Everyone knows that number and their heart skips a beat when they think it’s the sheriff’s office calling them.”

Frye said residents should also think twice about giving out their phone numbers to people.

“Don’t share your personal information with anyone,” he said. “To reduce the number of phone calls you get (from potential scammers), register your phone on the Do Not Call Registry.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.