BISMARCK, N.D (KXNET) — One in ten adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year, and according to the FTC, you are more likely to become a victim of identity fraud through online fraud than having your wallet snatched.
Now, let’s imagine your cat is lost. To help find your cat, you post a status with a full description of your pet along with your contact information, and not too long after that you receive a text message saying your cat has been found. All of it seems pretty normal, but in order to retrieve your pet, they’re asking you to verify a code. Sound strange? That’s because it is. The director of the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division in North Dakota says this is a scam.
Orion Kruckenberg posted a Facebook post on September 13th, looking for his pet cat, Copper. The post says, ‘Please keep an eye out for him, and call me’ with his phone number attached.
“I posted my number on the Facebook post, I know, kind of not supposed to do that, but I wanted people to be able to reach me if they found him.” Kruckenberg explains.
According to consumer FTC, scammers target people who post things for sale on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. They also prey on those in search of their lost pet, just like Kruckenberg. But according to Kruckenberg, he says this scammer did something a bit out of the ordinary.
“They said the cat was injured, and that they had taken him to a vet or whatever and like come on, man, that’s not cool.” he says.
The scammer says in their text messages, “There’s a lot of fakes here, so can I send the code to be fair,” and “If you’re a real person, send the code to me.” Kruckenberg tells KX News, “Once I realized it was a scam I reported it to the Bismarck PD, you know, and they told me not to respond, obviously other than what I had already.”
The question that Kruckenberg and others who dealt with similar situations like this is ‘what’s the deal with the verification code?’ or ‘what’s the harm in that?’ I asked Parrell Grossman, the Director of the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division, who says that code is possibly linked to open up an account, or it’s linked to your bank account. So, while you’re trying to save your money, scammers are designing many different ways to steal it.
“Time and time again, our victims say, ‘Well, they asked me to confirm a code, or confirm information. I’ve given it to them, and now I’ve been notified by my bank that the funds are withdrawn.'” Grossman tells KX News.
One way Grossman says you can protect yourself is to resist the pressure to act immediately. Similar to Kruckenberg’s case, when he was told his cat had a broken leg, Grossman says, “When they tell you it’s urgent, and you have to act now, that’s another absolute sign that it’s a scam.”
Right now, Copper has still not been found and his owner. Orion Kruckenberg is asking that if you see any signs of Copper, to contact him. With the rise of scams in North Dakota, Parrell Grossman says there were 108 reported victims scammed of a total of $5 million in losses in North Dakota.