Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace is warning residents of a scam that has recently been taking place in the area.
According to Gerace, scam artists are running classified advertisements in local newspapers in which they are allegedly looking for a "personal assistant."
When prospective victims respond to the ad, the scam artists get basic information from them and then begin to communicate with them via email and telephone. Eventually, the scam artists will send a package to the victim containing U.S. postal money orders for an amount above what they have agreed to accept for a wage or payment. The prospective victim is instructed to deposit the money orders and send the balance via Western Union to a specified address.
According to police, this is always a scam. The money orders are counterfeit and the "real" money that the victim is told to send to the scam artists via Western Union is untraceable. Some definite indicators that an offer is a scam include U.S. postal money orders or bank checks that are for an amount more than the purchase price or wage. If you are instructed to wire money to someone, especially if there is a sense of urgency involved, it could also indicate a scam. The emails that are sent may also contain "header" information from foreign countries.
Anyone with information regarding scams that may be occurring in Chautauqua County can contact the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office by calling 753-4231.