22
Wed, Nov

APS scam returns to Verde Valley

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Following a year’s respite, the APS Scam has returned to the Verde Valley.

According to Cottonwood Police Department Sgt. Monica Kuhlt, CPD received numerous reports of a suspect masquerading as an Arizona Public Service employee during the week starting Oct. 22. The caller demanded immediate payment, threatening an electricity shutoff.

“The potential victims are told to purchase a prepaid card for a specific amount and then call a certain number to make the payment,” Kuhlt said. “Fortunately, none of the callers who have filed a police report have fallen victim to this scam [but] I’m putting it out there now because we had four in one day.”

Kuhlt said the scam surfaced last year, when several locals succumbed to the trick.

“It’s not uncommon for these types of scams to resurface after some time has passed,” Kuhlt said. “We want to be proactive and not reactive .... Cottonwood Police would like to let the citizens know before any do become a victim.”

In response to the scam’s increased prominence in the state, APS released the following information to customers:

  • APS never requires payment via a prepaid card.
  • The only valid phone numbers to call the APS Customer Care Center are listed on customer bills and at aps.com.
  • If there is ever a question about the validity of an email, website or person claiming to be an APS representative, call the APS Customer Care Center immediately at 800-240-2014 to verify the information.
  • Recognize the signs of a phishing email: Mismatched fonts, missing hyperlinks, improper grammar and misspellings.
  • Never share credit card information with an unverified source. Customers who pay by credit card at aps.com will be directed to the KUBRA EZ-Pay website, which asks them to enter a captcha validation code.

Any other credit card payment site is fraudulent and should not be used. To report an instance of this or other scams, contact Kuhlt at 340-2113 or mkuhlt@cottonwoodaz.gov.

A second scam, in existence in many iterations for decades, is the Jury Duty Scam.

“Unfortunately, the jury duty scam continues to impact Yavapai County residents and calls have been especially heavy over the last two weeks,” Yavpai County Sheriff’s Office media coordinator Dwight D’Evelyn said. “The scam involves a suspect who calls unwitting victims and advises that a warrant has been issued for their arrest because of missed jury duty.”

According to D’Evelyn, the suspect typically identified himself as an employee of YCSO or simply the sheriff’s office. Many who received the calls were aware of the scam and hung up, but not all were so savvy.

“Several days ago, YCSO deputies were called to a home in Cornville to meet with a 28-year-old woman victimized in the scam,” D’Evelyn said.

“She had received a call around 9 a.m. from the ‘sheriff’s office’ and was told she missed jury duty and that a warrant had been issued for her arrest. The suspect explained that $2,000 was necessary to dismiss the warrant and directed her to buy prepaid credit cards from a local store and deposit them into a kiosk at the Sheriff’s Office on Gurley Street in Prescott. The victim purchased two $500 prepaid cards with cash as a down payment and provided the card numbers to the suspect over the phone for verification.”

After speaking with the deputy to confirm that she had fallen victim to the scam, the victim tried to cancel the prepaid cards but the money had already been withdrawn.

“During follow-up the next day, the victim explained she had been contacted again by the suspect to obtain the balance of $1,000,” D’Evelyn said, adding that after she declined, the suspect identified himself as “Deputy Alan Scott.”

“There is no one at YCSO by name,” he said. “Detectives are attempting to identify a suspect through phone records.”

D’Evelyn reminded residents of Yavapai County of the following:

  • Law enforcement agencies and court officials do not call to solicit payment on a warrant in this manner.
  • Names used by suspects may or may not represent true individuals.

Either way, the call is fraudulent. For information or questions regarding the jury duty scam or other scams, call YCSO at 771-3260.

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