July 17, 2024

Residents of Monroe should be wary of a new online scam that is impersonating their local law enforcement agency.

Sheriff Troy Goodnough, from Monroe County, reports that he found the scam running on Facebook. According to the con artist, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is collecting funds and extracting payment via social media, phone calls or gift cards.

For anyone who may have divulged sensitive banking information concerning this plea, Sheriff Goodnough advises them to contact Monroe County Central Dispatch on 734-243-7070.

Cybersecurity experts label such tactics as “spoofing” or “phishing” [according to the FBI](https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/spoofing-and-phishing). This involves misleading people into thinking that fake communication is coming from a trusted source, thereby accessing their personal information.

The [Federal Trade Commission (FTC)](https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam) suggests looking out for the following signs that might indicate a scam:

– Scammers mimicking organizations that you recognize or trust.

– Scammers trying to alert you about an issue or that you’ve won a prize.

– Scammers pressuring you to act instantly, so you don’t have time to consider their authenticity.

– Scammers insisting on specific forms of payment, such as using cryptocurrency, wire transfers and gift card numbers.

To protect against such scams, the FTC advises not to wire money, not to pay a fee to claim a prize, and not to trust unsolicited requests.

### Questions

What is spoofing or phishing?

Phishing is a dishonest practice of obtaining sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Spoofing is a type of scam where an intruder impersonates another device or user on a network to deceive people or systems and gain access to their information.

What are some signs that may indicate scam?

Some signs that may indicate a scam include scammers impersonating a known organization, scammers alerting you about an issue or a prize, scammers pressuring you to act instantly, and scammers demanding specific forms of payment.

How can I protect myself against online scams?

To guard yourself against online scams, don’t wire money to people or agencies you don’t know, don’t pay a fee to claim a prize, always verify the source of unsolicited requests and be wary of information shared online or over the phone without confirming the source.
Scammers are asking for payment through [gift cards](https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/gift-card-scams), [cryptocurrency](https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-cryptocurrency-and-scams), or [payment apps](https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/mobile-payment-apps-how-avoid-scam-when-you-use-one) impersonating government representatives. They [insist on these payment methods](https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam) because these transactions are difficult to trace and thus, hard to recover.

You should avoid giving your personal or financial info on calls, texts, emails or social media messages asserting to be from the government. If the call or message appears legitimate, verify it by contacting the indicated government agency on a trusted number. Never interact with [robocalls’ buttons](https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/robocalls), as it may result in additional unwanted calls.

You can’t trust the caller ID, even if the phone number or name appears to be that of a government agency like the “Social Security Administration”. It is possible for caller IDs to be manipulated or “spoofed” by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Lastly, avoid clicking on links in unexpected emails, texts, or social media messages. Scammers often mimic government agencies’ notifications to trick you into forfeiting your funds and personal information. It’s best to avoid clicking any dubious links and refrain from sharing them with others. Instead, remove these messages from your inbox.

Contact reporter David Panian via email at [dpanian@lenconnect.com](mailto:dpanian@lenconnect.com), or follow him on X via [@lenaweepanian](https://x.com/lenaweepanian).

## Frequently Asked Questions
### _**What should I do if I receive a call from someone claiming to be from the government?**_
If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent the government, don’t give out any personal or financial information. Disconnect the call and dial the agency directly with a trusted number to verify the claim’s credibility.

### _**Should I click links in unexpected messages?**_
It’s advisable not to click on any links in unexpected emails, texts, or social media messages. These could be sent by scammers who try to steal your personal information and money.

### _**What if a robocall instructs me to press a number?**_
Never press any numbers as instructed by a robocall. It can flag your number as active and potentially invite more unwanted calls.