Police warn of scams in region
The Yuma Police Department is warning area residents to be on the lookout for the "return fraud" and "wardrobing" scams.
Return fraud is perpetrated by the use of stolen receipts.
"Most people don’t think twice about receipts they get from purchases," said Ranae Sizemore, YPD fraud investigator. "A lot of times a person will throw the receipt in the trash or leave it behind at the cash register."
But thieves think about these receipts and how to get them. They may find them on the ground in the parking lot of the store or take them out of the trash. Once they get them, the scam begins.
"The scam is called return fraud and it’s on the rise," Sizemore said. "Once a con artist obtains a receipt they will shoplift the item or items on the receipt. Once they have the items they do one of two things to make the return. They leave the store and go back later to make the return, or they immediately head to the customer service counter to make the return."
If no receipt is given some stores may give a gift card with the return amount on it. Once the scammer has the gift card they can purchase other items, keep the receipt, and then return those items for cash.
"The ultimate goal of the scammer is to obtain cash," Sizemore noted.
Consumers can help reduce this scam by destroying receipts after a purchase.
The second scam, wardrobing, is the practice of purchasing an item, using it, and then returning it to the merchant for a full refund with the receipt.
"This is done by keeping the tags on the item for return," Sizemore said. "The most common items for wardrobing include: articles of clothing worn to a special event, electronics like televisions used for special TV events" such as the Super Bowl, "and even cameras used to photograph special events. Once returned, the retailer may be unable to resell the item, and if they do, it will be at a lower price."
For wardrobing, "the best way to stop this is to educate those who practice this and let them know this will ultimately lead to higher prices for all of us as the retailers attempt to make up their loss," Sizemore concluded.
Due to an increase in calls for service involving scams in the area, the Yuma County Sheriff's Office has added a “Scam Alerts” section to its official website aimed at educating the public on how to prevent themselves from falling victim to such schemes.
According to YCSO, scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels. Scammers play on emotions and generosity. They succeed by being clever, calculating, and often cruel. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. They add new twists to old schemes and pressure people to make important decisions on the spot. But they also succeed because their victims have not been forewarned.
"The best way to protect yourself against a scam is to be informed," YCSO officials stated. "With that in mind, we have included information on current scams as well as links for tips and resources to protect yourself. If you believe that you have fallen victim to a scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency."
For more information go online to www.yumacountysheriff.org/news-scams.html. The site will be updated periodically as new scams are observed in Yuma County.