CHARLOTTE COUNTY — The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is advising residents of two telephone call scams occurring in the area. One involves a fake caller from Publishers Clearing House; the other, a con artist claiming to be from Microsoft. The Publishers Clearing House caller notified a Punta Gorda resident that she won a sweepstake prize. He asked her to go to a Punta Gorda CVS store to buy a paper Green Dot prepaid debit card for $450, and then she would get her prize money. A Green Dot card can be obtained at CVS or many other stores in the county as well. The prepaid card is made out to the scammer and the money transferred electronically to a store where the caller is located. The victim is then told to immediately contact the caller when this was done and give him the card number. The scammer then goes to a store where the money was sent, gives the clerk the card access number, and gets the cash. Once cashed, it’s gone, and the sender is out the money.
Luckily, the woman was about to go to a CVS to follow through with instructions from the caller but was stopped by Sheriff Bill Cameron. The sheriff was home for lunch and a neighborhood resident contacted him about the woman who told her she needed a ride to CVS and why. Cameron talked to the woman, and when she told him what she was about to do, he told her it was definitely a scam. Cameron then advised her to call Punta Gorda Police to report the scam incident because it was in its jurisdiction. Concerning the Microsoft scam, a man called a woman on Jones Loop Road on Tuesday claiming he was with Microsoft and wanted to help her with any computer problems she might have. The woman actually was having some computer issues and followed the caller’s instruction by typing in information he told her that gave him complete control of her computer. The caller then requested her bank routing number to pay for the technical support he supposedly provided; she refused. The caller then requested her credit card number, which the woman gave him. Afterward, the woman called CCSO to advise what had happened. The woman was advised by the deputy to contact her bank and immediately cancel the credit card. The deputy then noticed the caller still had control of her computer while he was at her house. The deputy then disconnected the modem and advised her to take her computer to a shop and have it scanned for malware. Luckily, the woman had not installed her bank’s website information on her computer.
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