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Common Online Scams

Common Online Scams

We’re regularly contacted by individuals who think that they may need a criminal defense attorney but it turns out later that they are simply targets or victims of a scam. Here is a summary of the most common scams we’re hearing about.

If you can’t decide if your being scammed, or if it’s a legitimate investigation, you are welcome to contact our office for a consultation. We do charge a consultation fee for these appointments. We are able to consult by telephone with individuals from around the country.

Online Sexting – This is an incredibly common scam. It has been known to be operated by prison inmates using cell phones. The scammers will operate on dating websites looking to attract men. When a man responds they will move the conversation over to text message. It is possible, but not required, that sexting type photographs are exchanged. Shortly after the initial conversation a man will call claiming that the “girl” was in fact his underage daughter. The family know needs money to pay for her counseling, a new laptop, or some other expense. Shortly thereafter someone else calls claiming to be a police officer, investigator, or attorney. They will state that criminal charges can be avoided if the money is paid. They may use the real name of a real-life police officer, investigator, or attorney (so if you Google the name it’ll come up as matching a real person).

Missed Jury Duty – This scam generally begins with a telephone call you receive out of the blue. The caller will identify themselves as a police officer or court official. You will be told that you missed jury duty and that the court has already issued a warrant for your arrest. You can avoid being arrested and put in jail by paying a fine.

Tax Warrant –  This scam seems to be primarily operated out of Southeast Asia (India, Bangladesh, etc.). They scammers operate from a call center where they cold-call individuals. They claim that they work for a U.S. Government tax collection agency and that there is a criminal warrant being obtained for non-payment of taxes. This can all be avoided by paying a fee.

Child Pornography Blackmail – These scammers typically use form e-mails that the send out in bulk. The email will state that they know that you have been viewing child pornography online, and that they have recordings from your webcam taken during this time. They will threaten to release that information and video to either law enforcement or your employer\family depending on the version of the email you receive.

It’s important that if you are contacted by a scammer that you not provide any information about yourself, or confirm any information that they may already have. If you have already given them money, stop, and do not give them more. You are not required to answer the phone when they call or to talk to them, you can simply hang up. If you have already given them money they will put your name and information on lists exchanged between scammers, and you should expect to be targeted in the future with other scams. At this point you can change your phone number to try to minimize further calls. 

If you are unsure whether or not your situation is a scam, or is a legitimate investigation, you may contact this office for a paid consultation. Consultations may be by telephone, and we are able to speak to individuals regardless of their location. All consultations are confidential. Our lawyers are regularly able to confirm for people that their situations are scams, and nothing to worry about. For many, this can be significant peace of mind. Our opinion about whether or not it is a scam can also be put in writing and emailed at the conclusion of the consultation at your request.  


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