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Don't fall for these common scams

Scam Alert
Posted at 1:25 PM, Mar 07, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is warning people about frequently reported website-based scams – including law enforcement, bitcoin investment, and tech support scams - during National Consumer Protection Week which runs from March 3-9.

A news release from Knudsen explains that a law enforcement scam is carried out by phone fraudsters calling people and impersonating local law enforcement officials. The scammers use technology to alter phone numbers and area codes to disguise calls and make it appear that victims are being contacted from the local area or even the law enforcement agency itself. People are being told they have warrants for their arrest and being directed to pay thousands of dollars immediately to avoid being arrested. However, people should remember that law enforcement or courts will never call demanding immediate payment to take care of a warrant, especially payments by wire transfers, gift cards, PayPal, Venmo or bitcoin ATMs.

Cryptocurrency investment and ATM scams are being utilized as a piggyback method to other scams, like the law enforcement scam. Scammers are threatening arrest or other penalties, to convince people to invest in cryptocurrency through deposits at crypto ATMs. Scammers will show fake investment gain, convincing people to invest large sums of money over time. Once scammers have secured a large amount, the scammers will steal the cryptocurrency and cease contact. Remember, once a deposit is made into a crypto ATM, that money cannot be recovered. Always be highly suspicious of any request to send payment by cryptocurrency ATMs.

Technical Support Scams have continued to become prevalent throughout Montana. Scammers will issue a pop-up alert on a targeted computer claiming that anti-virus software is out of date and instructing victims to call the number on the screen. Then, scammers will take control of the computer and demand payment, or claim the computer is infected and charge the person to fix it. Always be skeptical of pop-ups and never call a number without verifying it first.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, keep these tips in mind:

  • If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid using third-party payment apps, wire transfers, gift cards and cryptocurrency ATMs.
  • Don’t be pressured to send money. Consult family, friends, or the Office of Consumer Protection before sending money via computer or phone.
  • Never send money to someone you don’t know.
  • Check to ensure the website is secure.
  • Verify the business address.
  • When in doubt, do not purchase.

“Our Office of Consumer Protection is here to help Montanans protect their hard-earned money from scammers, but please remember to stay vigilant and educate yourself on the common fraud schemes on the rise in our state,” Knudsen said in a news release.

Montanans can report any scams to the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection by clicking here.