Scam - Putnam Sentinel

PUTNAM COUNTY — Next Wednesday, Jan. 17, Kalida Police Chief Jim Gulker will lead a Fraud and Identity Theft Prevention presentation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Putnam County Educational Service Center, 124 Putnam Parkway, Ottawa. Area residents are encouraged to attend and learn about the types of scams currently occurring in northwest Ohio, along with ways to protect your personal identity and prevent fraud from happening to you.

While speaking with Gulker, he focused on why the community needs to work together to address ongoing issues of fraud and scams. “Area banks are inundated everyday with scams,” says Gulker. “They’re stopping clients who are coming-in saying, ‘I want to withdraw $7,000.’ Bank employees have learned to get kind of suspicious. They’re absolutely on the front lines of this. [Police departments] don’t know, unless it gets reported to us, what’s going on.”

“With fraud and scams, one of the biggest issues is the embarrassment of people falling prey to being scammed out of their money by a phone call, or because they clicked on the wrong email and it locked up their computer with ransomware virus, or somebody’s in a Canadian jail…Instead of calling their grandson and asking if they’re in jail, they panic.”

“Then they fall for it and go do it. When they finally realize it’s a scam, the embarrassment sets in…They’re afraid of losing their independence, losing control of their own finances, or that their adult children might think that it’s time to put them into a home. That’s what the mentality is. They don’t want to lose that independence, so they try to hide it.”

Scammers also know how to leverage information to their advantage, and they have learned when to initiate a scam for greatest effect. Gulker relates the story of a phone scam that worked on a local business in Putnam County, saying, “They called saying they were from AEP and that the business was delinquent on their payment. They told them, ‘If we don’t receive payment within the next hour, we’re shutting off power at your business.’”

“They called during a rush period for the business…[the scammers] had the business’ AEP account number and the amount on their most recent bill. The business owner went and got a copy of their bill, and the information matched what the scammer was telling them. The owner thought, ‘Well, it must be AEP.’” With the stress of the rush period occurring when the scam call came in, the business fell victim.

According to Gulker, education remains the best way to combat the most common frauds and scams occurring today. When scammers find that a community is well-educated on their methods, they move-on to better targets.

For next Wednesday’s event, Gulker will be joined by Christa L. Luttmann, the Northwest Ohio Regional Director from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office who regularly provides presentations throughout the state on common frauds and scams. Representatives from Putnam County Chiefs of Police, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, Putnam County Council on Aging, and Putnam County Job and Family Services will also be present. As will representatives from area financial institutions, including The Union Bank Co., Huntington National Bank, The Ottoville Bank Co., Fort Jennings Bank, Partners First Credit Union, First Federal Bank, First National Bank, and Superior Credit Union.

Should winter weather require the event be canceled, it will be rescheduled for that following Wednesday, January 24.