Scammers figured out a long time ago how to make letters and emails look legitimate, but a Green Valley resident recently found out the hard way that they know how to duplicate websites, too.
On Friday, a Green Valley woman reported losing $500 to a scammer.
According to a Pima County Sheriff's Department report, the victim received an email that looked like it had come from Chase Bank. It said her bank account had been frozen because someone had fraudulently taken $900 out of it.
The victim was given a phone number to call. According to the report, the woman Googled the phone number to make sure she wasn't being scammed and the number came back to Chase's fraud department.
The person who answered the phone convinced the woman to buy a $500 Gamestop gift card and to give them the number on the card, according to the report. The victim was told the money would be used to "go after" the suspects and arrest them.
The victim also gave the person on the phone her Capital One card number.
"It was not until after all this she realized that the people she was on the phone with were actually scamming her," the report stated.
Deputies informed the woman that the phone number she Googled sent her to a fake Chase website. Had she Googled Chase Fraud Department she would have realized the two phone numbers didn't match, according to the report.
"(The victim) stated she did not know that they could make a fake web page for her to find by using the phone number," according to the report.
She was advised to contact Capital One to cancel her credit card.
Sylvia Bencomo, who manages the PCSD’s Scam Squad, said she's heard similar stories.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of a similar scam, Bencomo said people need to make sure that the website they are visiting has "https:" in the URL, especially if they are purchasing something from that website. The "s" means it's a secured website, she said.
"People need to make sure that the website is secured," Bencomo said. "If it doesn't have 'https' in the address, then forget about it because you don't know who you are dealing with and who you might be giving your credit card information to."
Scammers "can just about do everything" to assume the identity of banks and legitimate businesses, so people really need to be extra careful, she said.
PCSD Lt. Derek Ogden wants to stress that no legitimate government agency or bank will ask people for Social Security and bank account numbers, nor will they ask people to purchase gift cards.
People should hang up when they receive such calls or ignore such emails, Ogden said.
People can also call the Pima County Sheriff's Department so deputies can verify those on the other end of the phone or computer are legitimate, he said.
"These scams are getting so elaborate, I can understand why victims think what they are doing is OK," he said.