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Keyword: scam

The Baltimore County Police Department knows that scammers are out there looking for new ways to take your money. The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is another opportunity for them to steal from the public.

Follow these simple tips to avoid being a victim of a scam.

  • As the government works on an economic relief package to send money, scammers are sending texts and emails telling the public how to receive this money. Don't listen to them. As of today, checks haven't being sent out. Don't be scammed by speaking with people who tell you they can get money to you sooner. Until the details are finalized, money won't be distributed. 
  • Don't click on unfamiliar links. If you do, a virus or malware could be downloaded on your computer.
  • You might receive false emails from scammers claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The message might say they have new and updated information about the virus. Don't trust these messages. If you want to get the most accurate information, go online and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO),or Baltimore County Government for resources available to residents.
  • Beware of online offers of medicines to ease symptoms or cure the virus. There are no vaccines, pills, potions or other “miracle” drugs at this time. The CDC and other organizations are working together on this and, rest assured, we will hear when something is available.
  • Stay away from charities that contact you either by phone or online for a donation, even those that say they represent a well-known organization. No legitimate, charitable organization will ask for donations in the form of cash, gift cards or by wire. Do your research before making a donation.  If you want to donate money for a good cause, visit Charity Navigator or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance to learn more about the charity before doing so.
  • Your phones, either cellphone or landlines, are places for scammers to trick you into giving personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers use illegal robocalls to illicit information from victims. The FTC advises that some callers, often a recording, ask the victim to press a telephone button that will allow them to talk to a live operator. Doing this could land you on a call list for future robocalls.

If you think you may have been scammed, contact the Baltimore County Police Department's Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit at 410-887-2190.

Over the last few months a number of people in the county have received emails that threaten to expose the recipient for bogus internet usage.

Here’s how it works. In an email, the criminal tells the victim that he or she knows a lot about the victim. The criminal says malware, like a RAT (Remote Access Tool), was setup on the victim’s computer and has used the victim’s webcam to film the target watching adult video clips (porn), and has proof that the victim visited these sites.

The extortionist claims that he or she has hacked your account. The hacker is counting on you to believe him or her because hacking is widespread. In some instances, they even posted a partial password that you may have used. Often times these are from old hacks that had your email associated with the account the password came from.

Upon reading this, notice the grammar and the language used, it often has mistakes because these scammers are not from the US. Like so many scams, it is most likely a foreign actor preying on unsuspecting victims.

Let’s be clear, you know where you’ve been on the internet. The scammer claims to have you on video watching various sites. Some victims who have received this email don’t have video cams on their computers. That would be your first clue that this is bogus. Even if you do have a camera, you know where you have visited, and, by the way, cover the camera when not using it.

The criminal goes on to threaten the victim with exposure on social network sites, those on your email list, and any other contact list you may use. The scammer “suggests” you pay him or her in cash or Bitcoin (a digital form of currency) to stop the video from going out. The scammer claims to have made copies of the “video.”

These scare tactics are just that. This is extortion and the criminal is hoping that you will panic, though you’ve done nothing wrong, and pay the demand. Remember, the Internet is like the Wild West and you could be getting a message from someone next door or halfway around the world.

Don’t pay the demand! Don’t follow up with this hacker. If you’ve received one of these and did not lose money, report it to or if you have sent money, call 410-887-2222 to make a report if you live in Baltimore County.

Thieves are always busy coming up with new ideas to steal your money through deception. A relatively new one has shown up recently - the “Jury Duty” scam. The target audience is the real surprise - the legal profession is in the bull’s eye for this group of criminals.

In one recent case the victim, a law professor at the University of Maryland, received a message on the office voicemail from a suspect who claimed to be a lieutenant in the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office giving instructions to call him immediately. When the victim called the number, a voicemail message answered stating that the victim had reached the Sheriff’s Office and a deputy would call back.

Eventually the two connected and the “lieutenant” told the victim that a judge had issued a bench warrant because the victim had failed to attend a grand jury indictment hearing that morning. The victim told the suspect that there was no evidence of a summons. The suspect replied that the summons was sent to the victim’s office in Baltimore and that he had a signed receipt verifying the delivery. The “lieutenant” went on to say the court matter was a civil suit between two individuals but refused to expand on the explanation when questioned further by the victim.

The suspect told the victim to meet him in a Towson garage with a “bond voucher” or MoneyPak (pre-paid credit card) from a CVS or office supply store in the amount of $1,868 to have the warrant rescinded. During the conversation the suspect became very aggressive, shouting in an attempt to intimidate the victim into following instructions. The victim immediately recognized this as a telephone deception scam and hung up.

Baltimore County Police warn citizens, especially our more vulnerable citizens, to beware of telephone scams involving a theft by deception. No official agency will shout at you over the phone when you question their request. No official agency will require you to meet them somewhere with a payment in the form of cash/check/pre-paid card/gift card. No official agency will call to demand a payment without having sent a letter of notification. No official agency will threaten a citizen with punishment over the phone in order to gain compliance. And in this specific scheme, no official agency will require a payment to rescind an arrest warrant, nor will one be issued for missing jury duty.

Never send payment to an individual threatening you over the phone. Never meet a person with a payment when requested to do so over the phone. Never give your social security number or credit card number to anyone who claims to be a representative of any type of company or government agency over the phone. These are all scams to steal large amounts of money from unwitting victims, who could also become victims of a violent crime if they meet with these suspects.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a similar phone request, call the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office at 410-887-3131 or the Baltimore County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at 410-887-2190. If you have been targeted by this scam you can report the incident to the Baltimore County Police Department by calling the non-emergency line at 410-887-2222.

Revised June 27, 2017