Beware of identity theft, credit card scams

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Between 15 and 20 identification thefts and credit card frauds are reported in Lyon Township every week.

Last year, there were 180 cases. During the first six months of this year, there were already 108 cases, explained Oakland County Sheriff Sgt. Mark Venus, Lyon substation commander.

“For someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s easy to gain personal information,” Venus said.

Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Lyon substation see everything from sophisticated ticks to the seemingly obvious swindles. But in the end, criminals always get the victim’s money.

“There are so many different scams out there,” Venus said.

The most recent case involved a Lyon Township woman whose bank information from her debit card was used at a Meijer in Royal Oak. About $200 in purchases were made by the thief. Detectives are continuing to investigate this case.

Many scams

In another recent incident, a thief called a Lyon Township resident, identified himself as an Internal Revenue Service agent and explained there was a mistake on the resident’s tax return. The caller said the money had to be returned or the resident would go to jail. The scam artist said a Green Dot money order had to be used to pay the debt.

That particular racket was used two times recently, Venus said.

Residents need to be aware of red flags that point to schemes.

“The IRS doesn’t do phone calls,” Venus said. “If there is a problem with the IRS, you will be notified by mail. The government never asks for money over the phone.”

Another victim fell prey to swindlers in early July. A 19-year-old Lyon Township man told deputies that $2,000 was stolen from his debit card. He said he was contacted by a Facebook acquaintance, who told him she knew of investors who could provide him with loans for college tuition.

The woman asked the student to meet her and her friend in the Walmart parking lot in New Hudson. The student learned a costly lesson when they talked him into handing over his debit card and PIN number. He didn’t get the loan, but the fraudsters got $2,000.

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