By Roy Nestor, Safety Coordinator

Now, more than ever, social media is leaving a tremendous impact on our culture. From connecting with friends on Facebook to checking local sports news on Twitter, these popular websites have become an everyday habit for many. Aside from catching up with old pals or searching the latest trends, social media can also make you more susceptible to cyber threats.

Recently, The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit found a pattern of suspicious behavior involving local individuals targeting friends, high school acquaintances and friends of friends via social media in an attempt to commit fraud. By using sites like Facebook or Instagram, these suspects can identify their victims and lure them into a scam. These types of cons involve the scammer contacting their targets, usually claiming they need help getting money to someone via the target’s bank account. In exchange, the suspect will offer to pay the victim money for their good deed.

Once the transaction happens, the scammer will deposit a fraudulent check via the bank’s mobile app and immediately begins withdrawing funds leaving the account empty, or worse, in the negative. As a result, the victims are responsible for the lost money and in some cases may even lose banking privileges or lowered credit scores.

Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  1. Do not release your bank account, PIN number, or password information to anyone.
  2. Do not allow anyone to deposit checks into your account, unless they are your employment provider or banking agent.
  3. Do not give anyone access to your bank account or personal funds.
  4. Do not assist in cashing someone else’s check; there are business for that.

If you are ever unsure of a situation, don’t act on it. Instead, contact your bank or trusted financial advisor for any questions related to your finances.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office encourages everyone to keep in mind that, if you would not lend an individual money, then you certainly should not give him or her access to your bank account. In the end, you will be held responsible for any misuse or fraudulent use of your account.

For additional information about this scam, contact the Lee County Sherriff’s Fraud Line at 239-258-3292.



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