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Cortland County Sheriff’s office offers advice to avoid scams

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CORTLAND, N.Y. (WBNG) - The Cortland County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) is investigating a scam in their community and is offering tips to community members on how to avoid falling victim to it.

As of Friday evening, a local couple has been caught up in sending money and gift cards to an unknown person out in California, posing as law enforcement.

"These folks went out, obtained gift cards from a local store, and then contacted these people back and the gave them the security codes on the back of the gift cards," said Lt. Todd Caufield of the Office's Criminal Investigation Division.

"It went from getting gift cards to putting actual U.S currency in a package and mailing it to them under certain conditions."

Caufield told 12 News the couple had been coerced by the suspect or suspects through threats of search warrants and arrests if money wasn't said.

During this time at the sheriff's office, Caufield has never heard of an agency doing this.

"If there's an agency out there that does that, in the 34 years I've been on the job, I have never seen a police department say, 'If you come here and pay this money, you're gonna get out of it.' That's not the way police departments work," Caufield said.

Caufield estimates "hundreds and hundreds" of scam calls have taken place during his stay at the CCSO, but that if you or someone get a call like this, there are simple, but important, rules to follow.

"Don't give up your name, don't give up your date of birth, don't give up any personal ID information whatsoever," Caufield said. "Contact your local law enforcement agency."

But even then, he also recommends a much simpler option.

"As a matter of fact, just hang up the phone," Caufield said.

To go along with these rules, Caufield calling on everyone in the community to keep their head on a swivel.

"People need to be vigilant as to what's going on, your surroundings, what's being asked of you, what's being requested, what your thought is," Caufield emphasized. "If something doesn't sound right or feel right, inquire."

The scam investigation is currently ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Cortland County Sheriff's Office directly.

Caufield is asking retailers who notice a person or person buying gift cards in large sums multiple times to please reach out to the office as well.

Cal Dymowski

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