Bossier residents targeted by financial scams, theft

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[Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a 2-part series about financial crimes over the holiday season. Part one published Dec. 13.]

The holidays are a festive time filled with parties, fun with family, and sharing gifts, but there are some Grinches out there who want to steal your Christmas. 

While the Bossier City Police Department says that the November and December time frame doesn’t have a high rate of crime, thieves can still seek out your financial info through scams.

Although, Sgt. Christopher Davis, supervisor of the Bossier Financial Crimes Task Force, warns that not every holiday scam happens online. 

Some criminals steal the joy of the season by swiping deliveries from front porches. They may cruise through neighborhoods looking for deliveries left while residents are at work.

Installing a home security camera could help law enforcement identify and catch the thieves, but it might be easier to make arrangements so your packages won’t be left unattended by the door.

For instance, Amazon offers several special delivery options. For other retailers, having packages delivered to a workplace may be a more feasible option.

The spirit of the season makes people feel generous, and scammers capitalize on that. They may create fake GoFundMe pages for a seemingly good cause or impersonate legitimate charities on the phone.

To avoid charity scams, be deliberate about your giving. Do your research and don’t make phone donations to unsolicited callers. Any request to wire money overseas should be a red flag.

Social media sites make it easy for people to share appeals for assistance, and that can make it a breeding ground for scammers. As the holidays approach, be aware that not every story shared on social media may be accurate.

The most glaring example of this is a couple who raised more than $400,000 on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe last fall using a false story about helping a homeless man. Both the couple and the man were prosecuted for the scam when it came to light.

If you want to give money to a GoFundMe account, it may be best to stick to those with a personal or local connection. That way, you can verify that the organizer is authorized to raise money for the recipient.

These sob story scams can also involve fraudsters impersonating a relative facing a crisis. Seniors are commonly targeted, and they may get a call allegedly from a grandchild in trouble. This child may have supposedly been arrested or have some other urgent need to have money wired to them.

Be equally cautious about emails outlining similar scenarios, such as a relative whose wallet and passport have been stolen while traveling. Make contact with the relative through another means before offering any financial assistance.