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Scam artists are exploiting "North Dakota nice"

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The Consumer Protection Division of the North Dakota Attorney General’s office has seen a recent increase in reports from victims of imposter scams such as the “government official” and “computer virus warning” scams. Parrell Grossman is the director of the Consumer Protection Division for the Attorney General’s office.

"Just in the last two weeks alone, we had three reported victims of the computer technician scams, who lost, between the three of them, $105,000. So this is just becoming more and more common."

Grossman says scammers often pretend to be authoritative figures or claim to be working with tech companies in order to get onto your computer and into your bank account.

"We like to remind consumers, when you get any of these kinds of calls, they're scams. The IRS simply would never call you and tell you that you owe them money. The court would never call you and tell you that you're going to be arrested because you missed jury duty. A legitimate lottery or sweepstakes offer is never going to call you and tell you won hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that just the fact that they seem to be creating some sense of urgency should be the first red flag that it's a scam."

The victims are often ordered to pay the scammers with gift cards or are told to withdraw cash from their bank and convert it into Bitcoin or cryptocurrency.

"Ignore the calls. Don't answer the calls once they start to tell you there is a problem, hang up. If you get a message to call someone back, don't call back and just delete that message. It's never too late to hang up your phone, you should never worry about not being polite. Just hang up, because if they are telling you not to discuss it with anyone, it's a scam."

Grossman says, in 2021 alone, 201 victims of scams reported losing almost 5 million dollars total. The number scams is likely higher than this number because scams often go unreported. If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, contact the consumer protection division of the state Attorney General’s office.