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City warns of scam targeting NR community

Dozens of New Richmond residents were called by an apparent phone scam artist last week.

The City of New Richmond issued a press release about the scam on the morning of Thursday, March 13.

According to the release, many residents reported being contacted by “a very professional-sounding male identifying himself as a representative of a local credit union.” The caller’s scam involved telling individuals that their bank account had a hold on it and that the individual’s account information and PIN were needed to remove the hold.

“We did talk to some of the local banks that people were saying they were from, and we let them know so that they could bump up their internal security,” said New Richmond City Administrator Mike Darrow. “It was important for us to make sure if anyone encounters any of these to call the police, and then obviously contact their banking institution.”

Though many local people were called by the scammer, not many people volunteered their information, and police say banks haven’t reported losing any funds.

“Those scams are very hard to track down and other than the attempts, I don’t believe anyone has paid anything out,” said New Richmond Police Chief Mark Samelstad. “There’s no reputable business that conducts their business like these scams are doing — nothing over the telephone.”

Samelstad said the scam artists tend to make call after call and prey on people’s fears until they get a victim on the hook.

“They always get somebody to respond. They try to scare people by saying that something is going to happen to their bank account or they’re going to get arrested or something like that if they don’t pay something,” Samelstad said.

The caller in last week’s round of scam calls seemed to have credible knowledge about local banking institutions, but Samelstad said that pretty much all the information a scammer would need about New Richmond could be researched over the Internet.

“That’s how they come across as being halfway legitimate, but they’re not,” Samelstad said.

There is no indication that the calls were made from local numbers. According to the city’s press release, the scam used a toll free 888 number.

If you receive a call that you suspect is part of a scam, call the New Richmond Police Department at 715-246-6667 to report it, and follow up with a call to your banking institution.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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