Representatives from the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office and the Conway Police Department discussed scams, fraud and other financial crime information with branch managers of First Security Bank in Van Buren and Faulkner counties .
“We appreciate First Security Bank for the invitation,” FCSO spokeswoman Sherry Skaggs said. “We encourage everyone in the community to educate themselves on current scams via phone, email and the like.”
Skaggs said there are steps people can take to protect themselves from scams.
“Please never give out your financial information over the phone or via email,” she said. “Always make sure that if you get a call or email from what you think is your bank, hang up the phone and close the email. Then call your bank directly at the phone number provided by your financial institution Educating yourself is the best way to ensure that you do not become a victim.
Skaggs along with CPD Detectives Tim Gray and Joseph Rowe answered questions about scams prevalent in central Arkansas communities.
What new scams and criminal activity/financial fraud are you seeing?
The latest twist in our fraud cases is the suspect’s use of mobile banking apps. These apps allow a suspect to avoid transactions where they would be positively identified by being photographed or having to provide ID/fingerprints. Although identification could still be made, it presented an additional challenge in establishing the exact identity of who is using the app to deposit a check.
What are some of the fraud-related activities common to our cities right now?
The majority of cases we see involve the use of stolen debit/credit cards. The cards are usually stolen from the victim’s vehicle overnight and used soon after at department stores, gas stations or online. Check theft from a victim’s home or mailbox is still commonplace. Once the checks are obtained, they are either edited or the check information is used to create a new check, which is then cashed through a mobile app.
Where are you seeing the biggest increase in crime?
The most common crimes related to fraud in Faulkner County are breaking and entering vehicles and stealing checks/debit cards/ID cards. It appears that these crimes occur in waves, with several thefts occurring at night for a short period of time. Often specific neighborhoods are targeted, with suspects moving on foot at night to avoid detection. We found out a lot of the suspects aren’t from Faulkner County. Most debit cards are brought back to the Little Rock area and used in major stores there.
What are the worst cybercrimes that have happened in our communities lately?
We have seen a number of identity theft scams in recent years in which a criminal obtains a victim’s personal information by posing as someone such as a law enforcement officer or bank. Once the criminal obtains this information, he opens a credit card or other online accounts in the victim’s name. These scams come in the form of emails or phone calls. We have also seen scams where a criminal calls a victim and identifies himself as a local law enforcement official. The criminal then tells the victim that he has an arrest warrant and demands money or the victim will be arrested. They normally require the victim to purchase gift cards which the scammer can redeem. Unfortunately, many people in our senior community fall for this scam.