COLUMN: Watch out for scams

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

There are any number of scams being run by scam artists at any given time, so please make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to familiarize yourself with the different scams out there. You don’t want to be an easy target and where someone can take advantage of you.

I’ve talked about scams before in this column. Because scam artists and their criminal activities aren’t going away, I’ll continue to bring up this topic from time to time. There are simply some bad human beings out there who think it’s a good way to make their living. It’s truly a shame they don’t direct their creativity to a lawful pursuit and for the good of the community.

If you do find yourself victimized by a scam, please file a report with your local law enforcement. We understand you’re probably feeling embarrassed because you didn’t recognize what was happening, but don’t let that embarrassment keep you from speaking up about how a scam is being run in our area. As law enforcement, we’re going to do our best to get your money or property returned to you, but we can’t help you if you don’t let us know. Plus, your reporting the crime may also prevent someone else from being victimized.

To familiarize yourself with the different scams that are out there, you can look at the following federal government websites for the latest updates and information. I strongly encourage you to check them out:

https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds – This website has sections on common scams and frauds, housing scams, identity theft, online safety, privacy and how to identify and report scams and frauds.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts – This website has a “most recent scam alerts” listing on its front page. Three reports filed since the start of this New Year alone include “Yahoo customer service scam,” “Police raids in India cut down IRS imposter calls” and “Don’t pay for a car with Amazon gift cards. Ever.” You might be thinking, “Who in their right mind would buy a car with a gift card?” You’d be surprised at the people who fall for such a scam. Remember, these are criminals coming after you who are very adept at convincing you to do something that’s not in your best interest.

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/on-the-internet – This FBI website has some excellent tips about how to stay safe on the internet that are good for the entire family, especially those with children who’ll be on the home computer or their own device.

So, take some time, educate yourself and stay on top of the developments in the fight against these types of crimes and scam artists. It’s worth those few minutes taken to read over the material.

Remember, nothing in life is free and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Please, everyone, let’s keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week and Happy New Year.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.