The Ada County Sheriff's Office is warning consumers to watch out for scams this holiday season.
The Sheriff's Office suggests keeping an eye out for anyone who tries to get you to buy gift cards or pre-paid credit cards and then use them to pay an "arrest warrant" or "to protect your computer" or anything else.
"Once you load your real money on a gift card or pre-paid credit card and give those numbers to one of these criminals, your money is most likely gone forever," according to ACSO.
In protecting against scams, officers also advise retailers to be wary of anyone loading large amounts of money onto prepaid cards.
The warning comes after investigations into a scam that convinced a Boise couple in their 70s to buy $15,000 in gift cards by claiming someone was using their computer to make fraudulent transactions, according to deputies. The message came from "Microsoft customer support" and had a phone number, which the couple called and were told they were about to lose $11,000 in a "coinbit" transaction, ACSO says. The couple was then instructed to buy gift cards so they could get their money back.
The couple bought the cards and were told to read the numbers to the criminal on the other end of the phone, who later drained the funds from the card.
Deputies say this is not the first scam they have seen this year, and scammers know how to find those who are most vulnerable. Other scams the Ada County Sheriff's Office has seen include someone pretending to be a state police officer telling people they have an active arrest warrant in Ada County and need to pay a $2,000 or more fine by purchasing a gift card.
Deputies remind residents they will never be called and threatened with arrest because of an outstanding arrest warrant or missed jury duty, tax bill, missed DNA test or anything of that nature. Officials would also never ask you to wire or transfer money electronically, and that can be a indicator of a scam.
"In reality, if one of our deputies had to issue an arrest warrant or file a civil judgment, they would try to find you in person and leave cards with call-back numbers on them several times before calling – and that would be to set up a meet," ACSO says.
If you have been a victim of any scam, Ada County Sheriff's Office asks you to call them at 208-377-6790. If you have been on the receiving end of one of these calls but have not lost money, you can still report it to the Federal Trade Commission hotline at 877-382-4357 or the Idaho Attorney General's Office at 800-432-3545.