Local officials say that a dangerous scam has been attempted on some Lee County businesses.
According to the Lee County District Attorney's Office (LCDAO), law enforcement received reports about a person contacting local businesses claiming to be from the U.S. Marshal's Office investigating counterfeit bills.
Employees at the businesses are instructed to collect $1 and $5 bills and meet the agent in the parking lot, the LCDAO said. The scammers instruct the employees not to talk to anyone. They tell them that corporate is aware of the investigation.
According to the LCDAO, when the employees arrive in the parking lot, they meet a male and female. The scammers take the money and leave.
The LCDAO said that no suspects have been arrested and similar incidents have occurred outside of Lee County.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said that the Attorney General's Consumer Divison staff receives an average of 15 to 20 new fraud complaints weekly.
"Scammers like to recycle old scams using new information," Marshall explained. "They do it because it works. Too often, people let down their guard and get [taken advantage of], costing them hundreds if not thousands of dollars."
Marshall stated one of the most frequent scams involves someone claiming to be a federal, state or local law enforcement agent threatening to imprison the victim if they don't pay a fine immediately.
Law enforcement agencies in Lee and Elmore Counties, Birmingham, Bessemer, and Childersburg have issued warnings about these kinds of scams this summer, according to Marshall.
"Many of the scammers who target Alabamians are located either outside of our state or in another country, making it difficult to recover the money they steal," Marshall advised. "The best protection from scammers is not to fall victim to their tactics in the first place."
Marshall said to hang up if you receive a call from someone claiming to be law enforcement demanding payment over the phone.
"No government agency will order you to pay a fine by a gift card or money-transfer service," Marshall stated. "After you transfer your money onto a gift card and share the card info with a scammer, there is little that can be done to stop the thief or to reclaim your lost cash."
If you think you've been scammed, you should be sure to notify your bank to stop transfers of funds from your account and report the incident to local law enforcement and the Alabama Attorney General's office.
To file a complaint with the Attorney General, you can click here or dial 1-800-392-5658.
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