Scam Alerts

>> Fraud Hotline 916-645-SCAM (7226) << 


The grandparent scam is when a caller will pretend to be someone's grandchild. They will say they have been arrested and need their grandparent's help -- but not to call mom or dad because they don't want to get into trouble. Learn about what to look for and how to prevent this scam from happening. 


Recently widowed, 60-year-old Anna started an online dating profile. A man named Henry starts chatting with her online. In the midst of a romantic relationship, Henry tells Anna that he is going to come and visit her. The day before he is supposed to arrive, he calls to tell her that he cannot come. Then he asks her for money. At first it is a few thousand dollars, then tens of thousands... Once the money is gone, Henry dumps Anna, breaking her heart.
Candy hearts
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, over $230 million has been spent in these romance scams. What can you do to make sure you do not become the victim of these romance scams?

• Research the person’s photo and profile.
• Beware if the person attempts to isolate you from friends or family.
• Beware if the person promises to meet you in person, but creates an excuse why he or she cannot.
• Never send money to anyone you do not personally know.
If you think you or a family member is a victim of a romance scam – you can do the following:

• Contact our Fraud Hotline for assistance at 916-645-SCAM (7226) or
• File a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Bitcoin scam

bitcoinRecently a Placer County citizen fell victim to a Bitcoin Scam. The victim’s computer displayed a pop-up window prevented the victim from accessing his device. The pop-up window provided a phone number for the victim to call to speak with an Apple representative. The victim called the phone number and was told he had authorized a subscription for nearly $12,000. The victim denied ordering the subscription. The victim was then transferred to another person claiming to work for the bank’s fraud department. The victim was told to withdraw nearly $12,000 from his bank account and place it into a Bitcoin machine while the fraud department handled cancelling the subscription. The victim was told that once the subscription charge had cleared the money would be returned to his account.

Several days later, the victim was contacted again by someone claiming to work at his bank. The person requested he withdraw another $8,000 and place it in a Bitcoin machine to clear the charges. The victim was told all the money would be transferred into his account the following day.

The following day, the victim checked his account and none of the money had been transferred back. The victim attempted to contact the person he thought worked at the bank using the same phone number they had contacted him with. Unfortunately, the phone number was no longer in service and the victim realized this was a scam.

If you receive a suspicious message on your computer or phone, do NOT engage. Do not fall victim to this scam. Contact our fraud hot-line if you have any questions. Placer PROTECT Fraud Hotline (916)645-7226.


holiday email scamsCitizens are receiving emails that appear to be from Amazon or Paypal indicating that the citizen's account has been compromised. When the senior clicks the link, they are asked to provide their account information. Then the scammer uses the information to hack the citizen's account.

  • Always open a new browser to find your account page
  • Never provide your personal account information
  • Do not click on links provided in emails

 Gift card scams 

Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. As soon as someone tells you to pay them with a gift card, that’s a scam. Gift cards are popular with scammers because they’re easy for people to find and buy. They also have fewer protections for buyers compared to some other payment options. They’re more like cash: once you use a gift card, the money on it is gone.

If someone calls and asks that you pay them with gift cards, that’s a scammer calling. And once they have the gift cardmoney number and the PIN, they have your money.

Scammers may tell you different stories to get you to pay them with gift cards, but this is what usually happens:

  1. The caller says it’s urgent. They say you have to pay right away or something terrible will happen. They want to scare or pressure you into acting quickly, so you don’t have time to think or talk to someone you trust. Don’t pay. It’s a scam.
  1. The caller usually tells you which gift card to buy. They might say to put money on an eBay, Google Play, Target, or iTunes gift card. They might send you to a specific store — often Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens. Sometimes they tell you to buy cards at several stores, so cashiers won’t get suspicious. And the caller might stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card. If this happens to you, stop. It’s a scam.
  2. The caller asks you for the gift card number and PIN. The card number and PIN on the back of the card let the scammer get the money you loaded onto the card. Don’t give them those numbers. It’s a scam. You’ll lose your money, and you won’t be able to get it back.

Spot the Scam

Only scammers try to convince you to pay with gift cards. If you know how to spot their tactics, you’ll be able to avoid the scam, and help others spot and avoid it. Here’s a list of common gift card scams and schemes:

  • The caller says they’re from the government — maybe the IRS or the Social Security Administration. They say you have to pay taxes or a fine. It’s a scam.
  • Someone calls from tech support, maybe saying they’re from Apple or Microsoft. They say there’s something wrong with your computer and you have to pay them to get it fixed. But it’s a lie.
  • dating websiteYou meet someone special on a dating website, but then they need money and ask you to help them. This romance scammer makes up any story to trick you into sending them gift cards. Stop. Never send money or gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person — even if they send you money first.
  • The scammer pretends to be a friend or family member in an emergency and asks you to send money right away — but not tell anyone. This is a scam. If you’re worried, hang up and call the friend or relative to check that everything is all right.
  • Someone says you’ve won a prize, but first, you have to pay fees or other charges with a gift card. Remember: no honest business or agency will ever make you pay with a gift card. But also — did you even enter that sweepstakes?
  • The caller says they’re from your power company, or another utility company. They threaten to cut off your service if you don’t pay immediately. But utility companies don’t work that way. It’s a scam.
  • You get a check from someone for way more than you expected. They tell you to deposit the check, then give them the difference on a gift card. Don’t do it. That check will be fake, and you’ll be out all that money.


Scammers are taking advantage of the new economic impact payment or stimulus checks to scam our citizens. If you have concerns about your payment or eligibility for a payment - visit Learn more in the video below.

Covid test

There have been reports of people going door-to-door pretending to offer tests for the COVID-19 virus. There is NO legitimate agency or organization offering in-home tests. This is likely an attempt at a distraction burglary or an attempt to collect a fee for a fraudulent test. While there have been NO reported cases in Placer County, it is important that you stay aware. Unfortunately, some people will try to take advantage of the current situation. If anyone comes to your door offering a test for COVID-19, close your door - DO NOT let them inside your home - for any reason, and immediately call the police.

If you have concerns about a scam, contact our Fraud Hotline at 916-645-7226.


Gift cards are a popular gift for the holidays – but be careful! Suspects are using gift cards to pray on our citizens. Please see the alert from ITunes. 

Flowers and wineDELIVERY MAN SCAM

Recently in Del Webb, a citizen received a phone call from someone claiming to work for a delivery company. The man asked if the citizen was going to be home because he needed to deliver a package that required a signature. The caller indicated the package would be delivered within the hour. Sure enough, a delivery man arrived later with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine.

The delivery man then explained that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery/verification charge,” providing proof that he had delivered the package to an adult of legal drinking age, not just left it on a doorstep. When the citizen offered to pay him cash, the delivery man indicated that his company required a credit card for verification. The delivery man then took the citizens credit card and used a small mobile card machine. The citizen was asked to enter his PIN number and was provided a receipt. In the next four days, over $4,000 was withdrawn from the citizens debit card.

Fraud resources