Date: March 13, 2002 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 or 819-0397 pager
PCSO Computer Crimes Unit Warns Users Of Cyber Scams

The Polk County Sheriff's Office Computer Crimes Unit is issuing a warning to Internet users to beware of cyber scams. Two scams currently are under investigation: one features an e-mail offering free money in exchange for financial and personal information, and the second involves possible fraudulent autographed items being sold on Internet auction sites/houses.

The Computer Crimes Unit has received numerous complaints from victims who have received an e-mail from a person claiming to be in either Nigeria or Africa who has experienced an "emergency" of some type that has left them with huge amounts of money they need to transfer to new bank accounts. The e-mail promises the reader they can keep some or all of the money in exchange for their cooperation and financial information such as bank account numbers, credit card information and personal information. The scenarios vary slightly from e-mail to e-mail. Fortunately, no one has reported actually giving out this important, private information. The Computer Crimes Detectives strongly remind users to never give out financial or personal information to unverified persons via the Internet! If you receive an e-mail similar to this, specifically from someone claiming to be in Nigeria, please forward the e-mail to the Secret Service at 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov.

The Computer Crimes Unit also is investigating the possible sale/auction of fraudulent "autographed" items on Internet auction houses/sites. Detectives are seeking possible victims who may have ordered/received autographed items through Internet auction houses such as e-bay and yahoo. The items would have been sold from a P.O. Box listed in either Lakeland or Mulberry. Possible victims are asked to contact the Computer Crimes Unit at 863-297-3101.  Items that may have been fraudulently autographed and auctioned include baseballs, baseball caps, American flags, bandanas, signed limited editions of guitars, trading cards, sports items, cowboy hats, etc. The items also may include fake certificates of authenticity from Kings Promotions, Autograph Association, Lone Star Promotions and Celebrity Memorabilia.

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Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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