Police caution La Jolla citizens about new crime scams

By Ashley Mackin

From the FBI to San Diego’s Northern Division, branches of law enforcement are issuing warnings of noted crime trends — related to holiday shopping and otherwise.

  1. Homes undergoing fumigation are being burglarized.
There were two reports in November, one of which was on La Jolla Boulevard. These homes are often targets because the residents are known to be away. Police advise keeping watch on neighboring homes under fumigation and considering security options if you are fumigating your home.

  1. Thefts from rent drop-off boxes.
While there have not been any reports in La Jolla, $50,000 worth of rent checks have been stolen from boxes in Carlsbad. Police advise renters to bring their checks directly to the office.

  1. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports extortion scheme.
The perpetrator calls impersonating a DEA officer informing their victims that purchasing drugs over the Internet or by telephone is illegal and that enforcement action will be taken against them unless they pay a fine.

In most cases, the impersonators instruct their victims to pay the “fine” via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas. If victims refuse to send money, the impersonators threaten to arrest them or search their property. Some victims who purchased their drugs using a credit card also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.

“The public should be aware that no DEA agent will ever contact members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment,” the DEA said through a press release.

  1. The FBI cites fraudulent classified ads or auction sites, giftcard scams, and “phishing” on social networking sites and e-mail.
When it comes to shopping for the holidays, the FBI issued tips on safe Internet shopping, with the caution to interact with gift providers as directly as possible.

This advice is especially geared toward responding to classified ads or when buying gift cards. The FBI warns to not give bank account or credit card information to sellers, and to always use legitimate payment services to protect that information.

When buying gift cards, the FBI suggests buying from the merchant or authorized retailer directly.

When shopping online, go to the sites directly. Do not respond to or open links found in spam e-mails, and when an e-mail provides a link to a site, avoid filling out forms that ask for personal information.

An active scam involves e-mails or text messages indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. “In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs you to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen,” the FBI stated through a press release.

Finally, the FBI cautions consumers to be wary of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files as they may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders, and always run a virus scan on an attachment before opening it.

When in doubt, contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify it is genuine.