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More scam artists solicit Auburn-area residents

Law enforcement says to verify anything suspicious
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Earl Stone relied on his instincts about a strange telephone bill and may have avoided being scammed. Stone, 93, of Meadow Vista, said he got a bill for $8.17 from a telephone company that he didn’t have, but considered paying it when the sender of the bill threatened to report him to collections. He decided to do some investigating, which could have saved him from being scammed for account numbers and more. Pacific Gas and Electric Company says it also received reports last week about some of their customers receiving fraudulent phone calls, while local law enforcement says there are ways to minimize the risk of being scammed. “We called Sprint and then they said they had no record of my phone number and they have no record of me,” Stone said. “People need be suspicious all of the time because there are bad people out there.” Stone said he was also targeted by a con artist pretending to be his grandson, who said he was in jail and needed money to post bail. He said he almost fell for that one, but once again tuned into his instincts. Last week, PG&E reported in a press release that people posing as employees were attempting to extract personal information from customers. “These calls offer customers a discount on gas service because of ‘new government regulations’ and ask customers to give their service agreement number and billing information,” said Brittany McKannay, PG&E spokesperson. “PG&E will never ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone.” McKannay said some customers have even reported that the caller ID indicates the call is from PG&E. Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn said people should check with law enforcement before getting involved in anything that could be a scam. Ruffcorn said he has even got calls from people attempting to scam him. “People really have to be concerned about this. I have had calls at my house and they say ‘so and so is in jail and needs your help’ and I say ‘really? They are standing here next to me,’ and they just hang up,” Ruffcorn said. “Obviously they do this enough that it is paying off for them in some way.” Ruffcorn said to deter scam artists people should try to obtain contact information for the person contacting them, contact them at a later time and run the information past local law enforcement. He said even checking with 411 or an online source can be a good step to take, but people should beware that some websites may even look very similar to a real company’s website. “If they do go through the process and they do end up getting scammed, the chances of getting it back are very, very slim,” Ruffcorn said. “My advice whenever they get a phone call or whether it’s anything that sounds out of the ordinary, they should get a return number for them to call and they should call law enforcement.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter at AJ_News.