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The Lakeland Police Department
Crime Prevention Unit
219 N. Massachusetts Avenue
Lakeland, Florida 33801




Government grants scam

The government's stimulus package and bailouts also fuel the false impression that money's available for the asking. These Web sites "guarantee" you'll get a grant. In this scam, you must pay an application or processing fee, usually between $500 and $1,000. Once you send the fee, the scammer sends you applications and forms that are printed from government Web sites. In some cases, the scammer keeps your money and doesn't give you anything.

Instant credit repair

Here's how the scam works: A victim who's looking to fix his or her credit receives an ad in the mail or sees one in the newspaper and calls about the service. The company offers to order the victim's credit report and challenge every negative item, and those items will instantly be removed. The credit repair company charges either a per-item or flat fee but promises satisfaction, or you get your money back. "A month after the fraudulent company has been paid, the victim will see that these negative items have been challenged and removed from his credit report." But that is only temporarily. As soon as the negative item is verified as authentic, it's put back on the credit report." Besides paying for nothing, the victim is vulnerable to identity theft from the scammers.

Cash-for-gold scam

Offers abound to pay you for your unwanted gold, silver or platinum -- usually jewelry. You're told to place it in an envelope provided by the company and mail it in. In return, the company says it will send you the cash value of the gold within 24 hours. They claim it takes seven to ten days to receive your jewelry, when actually it takes only three to four days. "This gives them time to assess the value of the gold and, in doing so, they date and cut a check immediately, usually for an amount that the customer isn't happy with." Then, the check isn't mailed for several days. When the check is finally sent, it's too late to return it. By the fraudulent company's rules, it must be sent back within 10 days of the date on the check. Of course, reaching customer service to complain is next to impossible. When customers do finally get through, they have their own meltdown because their gold has already been melted down. And if you do get a check for your gold, it's only for a fraction of what it's worth.

Mystery shopping scam

The victim answers a newspaper or Internet ad asking for mystery shoppers. He or she is sent a training assignment and a cashier's check for a few thousand dollars. The assignment letter tells the mystery shopper to cash the check at the bank, go to a certain retail store and write a report on the cleanliness and service. The shopper is told to keep $50 for use on the mystery shopping spree and for the shopper's fee, and to wire the remainder of the funds to an address supplied by the supposed mystery shopping company. The shopper is told to complete the assignment within two or three days. This urgency keeps the victim from discovering that the check is counterfeit until it's too late. Once the check is cashed, the victim becomes the responsible party. Unless the victim keeps a hefty checking account balance, personal checks will start bouncing.

Social networking scams

In this, someone builds a friendship with you on a social networking Web site such as Facebook or MySpace, becoming your "online friend." The scammer may say he will lose his home or car unless he gets
some money quickly. Or he might say he's in jail. Other perpetrators send you a check and ask you to wire the funds to a relative who lives in your country, saying it's too difficult do it from his own country. With the first scenario, the 'friend' will disappear with your money. And in the second scenario, the check you deposited in your account in order to wire the funds will bounce, leaving you to repay the bank .


Rental/Lease property scams 

The criminal gets an address from property that is available for rent or lease.  They take this information and advertise the property on Craig’s List for rent or lease as if it is their own property.  When the victim inquires about the property, the caller requests information and says they are filling out an online rental application.  This is to include social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other information.  The criminal then says they need the victim to send them a cashier’s check for rent and deposit.  Of course, if the money is sent, the victim never hears from the criminal again.  If the money is not sent, the criminal then has the information of the victim to proceed forward with identity theft.