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Kern County Sheriff's Office warns of Facebook scams

Posted at 10:07 AM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 13:07:45-04

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has recently recognized an increase of reports of scams involving Facebook.  

While frauds and scams are not new to Kern County, we realize that scammers are always looking for new and innovative ways to trick individuals for money or personal information.  It is the goal of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit, along with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Report Desk, to identify these new trends and alert the public as soon as possible to prevent further victimization.  

Please see a synopsis of the most recent “Facebook scams” below:

Facebook Scam:  Kern County victims are reporting that they initially receive a Facebook message from a family member (their account was hacked) or a friend request from someone they do not know.  There are quite a few scenarios in which hacked family members or new friend requests are scamming Facebook users.

1.     One example is that the scammer offers to help pay the victim’s PG&E bill through a pay option on Facebook.  The scammer asks the victim to “pay what they can afford” and the scammer then offers to pay the rest of the bill.

2.     A second example is the scammer or hacked account asks the victim to deposit a check through the pay option on Facebook to withdraw the funds for the family member who does not have a bank account.

There are several other scenarios that have been recently reported to us.  However, all recent Facebook scam reports involve a victim giving out personal information or account information via Facebook.  The Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages all residents to be extremely cautious when using social media. 

Never give out personal information or bank information over Facebook.  If a family member is asking for help or money, please do not use the pay option on Facebook – instead call by phone and talk to the relative directly.  Remember, if it is too good to be true, it probably is!  If someone is requesting to help with PGE payments or other scams involving third parties or companies – do not make a payment over Facebook pay option. 

Instead, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office recommends a resident call PG&E directly to pay the bill with them.  Remember, scammers can be convincing.  Always think twice when asked for your personal information.

Scammers often trick victims by using tactics such as urgency, aggressive sales tactics, or emotional pleas for financial help.

Please continue to report all scams and frauds to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.  Reports can be made by calling our non-emergency line at 661-861-3110 or victims can make an online report by visiting www.kernsheriff.com. 

In addition to reporting to local law enforcement, if you suspect you may have been the victim of a scam, contact your banks and all three credit reporting bureaus to put a safety freeze on your accounts as soon as possible.