Cortland County Sheriff's Office warns of popular holiday scams

The following is a press release from the Cortland County Sheriff's Office.

The Holiday Season can be an exciting time of year and the gives us the opportunity to spend time with our families and loved ones, unfortunately it can also be an opportunity for some people to try to take advantage of us.  The Cortland County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer some warnings regarding potential scams we have encountered just this week alone. Additional Information can be located on the Federal Trade Commission Website, .  If you believe you may have been the victim of one of these scams, please call us at the Sheriff’s Office at 607-753-3311.

Tech Support Scams

Some scammers call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple. Other scammers send pop-up messages that warn about computer problems. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer. They claim to be “tech support” and will ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for unnecessary – or even harmful – services.

If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email or other urgent message about problems with your computer, stop. Don’t click on any links, don’t give control of your computer and don’t send any money.

Energy Savings

Some scammers may call claiming to be from your local utility company promising to help save you money during the upcoming winter months or claiming there is a problem with your bill and if you don’t give them a payment immediately over the phone your service may be terminated.  Hang up and call your utility company yourself, using the phone number on your bill.


The scammer calls pretending to be a friend or family member in need of money for bail, a medical emergency or other trouble.  An example:

The scammers used common tricks.

  • They tested Lou to see how much money they could get. They first claimed bail was $7,000, but when Lou said he only had half that amount, the fake lawyer said he could get the bail reduced. Usually, scammers ask you to wire the money or get a prepaid card and give them the numbers on the card. If you do, your money will be gone.
  • They tried to keep Lou from talking to anyone. They even told Lou he could be arrested and fined if he told anyone about their conversation. Why? Scammers don’t want you talking to anyone else. They want you to act fast, without thinking too carefully.
  • The scammers used information Lou gave them to make their story seem more real. For example, the fake grandson told Lou the accident occurred “in the city.” When Lou named the District of Columbia, the fake grandson said, “Yes. In D.C.” Scammers also get information from social networking sites, or by hacking a loved one’s email account.

If you get a call like this, get off the phone and check it out. Call your loved one using a phone number you know is theirs, or call another family member.