FTC ranks Charlotte County 26th in the nation for fraud cases; here’s how to protect yourself

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:

Be on the lookout for scams, especially as we get closer to the holidays!

In Charlotte County alone, hundreds of people are victimized every year.

Bob Laurie answers dozens of calls a day. A recent one, supposedly from Amazon, calling to report a fraudulent $400 purchase through his account.

“I was thinking about it, and I went to push the number, and I realized I don’t order anything from Amazon,” he said.

A call to Amazon headquarters confirmed his suspicion that the call likely came from a scammer.

Cpl. Paul Guyton, with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crime Unit warns, with schemes and scams, there’s always a new twist.

He says con artists often pose as retailers around the holidays but adds that the two most common scams in our area involve credit cards and gift cards.

The first is what Guyton calls a “Volume and velocity” scheme. A scammer will charge hundreds of dollars to your stolen credit card, but it won’t alarm the credit card company immediately because of higher consumer spending around the holidays.

The other, targets people who are buying gift cards. Scammers will steal empty gift cards, scratch off the redemption code, and replace it with a new sticker – using the card once you load it with funds.

Guyton says the ‘fake’ aftermarket stickers on the back of the cards typically look different. he advises looking for imperfections.

Rule of thumb… keep your credit cards close, inspect gift cards before check out, and don’t give out your private information, “Because once they have your information they can take you for thousands,” Guyton added.

For scammers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

A report by the FTC ranked Punta Gorda and Charlotte County 26th in the nation for fraud cases in 2018.

The Cape Coral/Fort Myers area isn’t far behind, coming in at number 35.

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