Recently, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian visited the Pleasant Street Center in Reading to give a presentation for residents about the latest phone and online scams and how to avoid them. The presentation started with statistics on how much money is lost to scams each year and who is targeted for victimization. Surprisingly, statistics show that adults 18-45 are most likely to be scammed in the United States. Additionally, in the past, scam tactics preyed on our hopes, such as free money, but now scam artists prey on our fears.
The Sheriff’s presentation continued to explain examples of five major types of scams and how to avoid them. Newer scams include a person on the phone pretending to be from the IRS saying that the victim will be arrested unless they send a one time use debit card in the mail to the scammer. Another, more recent, scam involves a phone call claiming to be from Koutoujian’s own office saying that the victim has missed Jury Duty and must pay a fine. The Sheriff was quick to point out that fines are a last resort in these circumstances and if there really was a problem there would have been many letters of contact prior to any type of fine occurring.
Other scams included the stranded relative scam, the Microsoft scam, and the new job scam which Sheriff Koutoujian commented was particularly cruel and insidious.
The presentation was well received and several attendees shared stories about attempts to scam them. “The most important thing to know, “ Koutoujian commented, “Is that you do not have to go it alone. If there is something you do not understand, get some help.” Sheriff Koutoujian’s presentation will air in its entirety on RCTV’s public channel. RCTV’s program schedule can be found on its website rctv.org.