BANGOR, Maine — It’s not uncommon for police to field calls regarding scams these days, according to Chief Deputy Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s all too easy for con artists and scammers to target people and companies.
Morton and Penobscot County Emergency Management Agency director Michelle Tanguay collaborated Wednesday to make the public aware that scam artists are using EMA’s name to solicit advertising dollars for a phony business.
The chief deputy said in this case the scammers contact a local business asking if it would advertise with their phony company. The scammers mention Tanguay’s name to gain the confidence of the targeted business. The scammers ask the targeted business for information as well as funds.
“We know we cannot stop all scams, but we know we can reduce the risk of scams,” Morton said to local media at the sheriff’s office Wednesday morning.
“The hook with this was they were using the EMA of Penobscot County’s title to entice companies to believe this was a credible company,” Morton explained.
Tanguay said that she learned of the scams when an undisclosed business contacted her after the scammers had apparently used her name.
“It was suspicious enough, so [the business] called me,” Tanguay said.
An undisclosed number of calls have been pouring into the sheriff’s office regarding this scam over the course of the week, Morton said.
Penobscot County’s Emergency Management Agency deals with cleanup or repair if people have had fires in their homes or other disasters.
Morton said it’s unlikely the scam artists are local. He also pointed out that most of them use TracFones, which can make it difficult for police to trace calls.
“Many are certainly not here in the state and a great deal are not here in the country,” Morton said.
Earlier this week, police on Mount Desert Island learned a woman had lost $70,00 through a Jamaican lottery scheme. That incident remains under investigation. In that case, the victim was “sweet-talked” by the caller, which is common in a lot of scam cases.
“They will pressure you and use words that sound familiar to you,” the chief deputy warned of another recurring scam theme.
Morton said most scam victims tend not to report it. He’s hopeful that by getting the word out, more people will.
“Again, the information is crucial for us to be able to prevent others [from becoming victims],” he said. “As ridiculous as some of these scams are, people still become victims.”
Anyone who believes they are being scammed should contact their local law enforcement agency.