KAYSVILLE -- Violent crimes may be decreasing across the country, but scams of all kinds are booming, Kaysville police said.
Unfortunately, there is little a small local police agency, like Kaysville, can do to catch the perpetrators and help the victims, said Capt. Brent Ward.
As of Thursday, there have been 11 cases of scamming reported to the agency thus far in the month of December, Ward said.
Police blame the sour economy for the increase in scams and fraud cases.
On Nov. 15, one of the most horrendous cases was reported. An 80-year-old Kaysville man came into the police station to report he lost $70,000 to a scammer, Ward said.
"It's heartbreaking because there's not much we can do," Ward said.
The man had received a call from someone who reported to be an employee of the Internal Revenue Service. That person said the IRS received notice the man had won $1.5 million.
At first the caller asked the man to mail a small amount of a cash, like $700, to pay some of the taxes on the winnings, Ward said.
The man told police he asked for some type of proof that the caller was an IRS employee. The caller gave him an identification number and then mailed a paper to the man at his address that looked like it came from the IRS.
A few days later the man was called again and larger amounts of cash were requested to pay the taxes.
By the time the man realized he had been scammed, he had mailed $70,000 in cash through the post office to an out-of-state address, Ward said.
The funds are now probably in another country, Ward said.
This is just one of the scams his office has become aware of this year.
Detective Bryan Berry is assigned to investigate most of the scam and fraud cases reported to the Kaysville police. Due to budget constraints and human resources, Berry cannot travel out-of-state, let alone to other countries, to hunt down the scammers.
Berry said scammers are adding new twists to con people and technology is making it much easier.
One common scam is when a person answers an online ad for a job, receives a check with the stipulation that the person deposits it into their checking account. Before the bank has time to clear the check, the employer asks the new hiree to send money orders for several amounts. The employer "pays" the new hiree for cashing the check by telling them they can keep a portion of the check.
A woman in her 20s recently got duped when she found a "nanny job" online. Berry said the woman exchanged emails with her potential employer, who said he lived in the United Kingdom.
He said he was moving to Utah and sent her a check for $4,000. The woman deposited the check into her bank account and then had postal money orders, using cash withdrawn from her account, in several amounts wired to the man.
Ward said it takes at least two days for a bank to verify a check is authentic and there are sufficient funds, but most people will withdraw funds from their accounts before the check has cleared, which is what the woman did.
She also sent the man a cashier's check, which was scanned by the suspect and has been reused several times, Berry said.
The bank notified the woman she was overdrawn by $4,000 several days after she had deposited the check because she had withdrawn the funds before the check had cleared.
Berry said a 23-year-old woman is also out of $8,000 after she wired money through Western Union to buy a Jeep out of Illinois.
The woman answered an online ad and was told her funds would go into an escrow account until the Jeep was shipped to her from Illinois, Berry said. There was no escrow account and no Jeep.
Another man realized he had a scammer on the phone and contacted police. The suspect called saying he was an employee with Zion's Bank and wanted to verify the man's checking account numbers.
"He didn't give the man any information and is not out of any money," Ward said.
Ward said people can avoid becoming victims by first realizing "people don't just send you checks. That is not how legit businesses operate," Ward said.
"It's the same thing we've been saying for years, If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," Ward said.
Berry and Ward said, although there is little police can do after a person has lost their money, if a person wants to have an ad checked for authenticity, contact police.
"We can verify if it is legit or not," Berry said. "We'd rather have 50 reports of something suspicious with no loss, rather than the two-thirds of our cases with losses."