Old or new scams, the advice is the same from law enforcement

Scammers may change the way they scam, but the result is the same. 

In 2022, reported consumer losses to fraud totaled $8.8 billion — a 30% increase from 2021, according to the most recent data from the Federal Trade Commission.

Residents in Big Horn County are impacted by scams on a daily basis with phone calls threatening “your power is going to be turned off unless you pay now” to your “Social Security number has been suspended.”

More recently, people have been targeted through Facebook, PayPal and texts. 

Lovell Chief of Police Dan Laffin’s best advice is to hang up: “These scammers are crafty and good at what they do. What I tell everyone is, ‘If you didn’t initiate the call, hang up,’ then call the company directly to see if the call they just hung up on is legitimate.

“For instance, cell phone provider scams are common where a person will call the victim and state that they are calling from Verizon (as an example) and say that they have noticed unauthorized purchases pending on the victim’s account. Then the victim, trying to avoid the unauthorized purchase, provides the scammer with all their information just to then be scammed with an actual unauthorized purchase. I tell citizens if they get that type of call, simply hang up and call Verizon directly; in almost all cases it ends up that the initial call was not actually from Verizon but a scammer. That is the best method to avoid being scammed.” 

Laffin provided the following indicators that it might be a scam: 1) If it must be handled right away while you’re still on the phone; 2) If they say it can be paid using prepaid cards or I-tunes cards; 3) If they say there is a warrant for your arrest; 4) If they say you will be sued; 5) If they say you have won something but must pay the tax or transfer fee to receive it; and 6) If they send you a check or transfer cash to you, to then have a portion of that money sent back to them (the check will not be honored, and you will be out the money you transferred). 

He added, “Bottom line do not provide any information over the phone (or internet through email). Call the company directly (not a number provided by the potential scammer or in an email) and in almost all cases the company will tell you they did not initiate the contact; therefore, you will know it’s a scam. No government agency (law enforcement, IRS, FBI, etc.) will contact you via phone or accept payment via prepaid cards for any type of fine.” 

Basin Police Chief Kyle McClure echoes the advice of not giving out personal information even if you think the contact is a legit bank agent. 

He gave the example of a Basin resident that was scammed by someone pretending to be from a local bank. The caller asked the resident to help “trap scammers” by transferring a significant amount of money into an unknown bank account. 


As mentioned, the type of scams change, and just when people are catching on, a new one emerges. Some involve the use of artificial intelligence. 

One of the latest potential scams to hit Big Horn County is an old one with a new twist. You receive a call from a person saying they are calling from Publishers Clearing House and that “the team delivering your check is only 45 minutes away.” 

The caller tells you to write down the winning ticket number and the confirmation number. When the team gets there, you will need to prove to them you are who you are. They insist you write it down and then repeat it back to him. If you don’t, you won’t win. The caller also asks open ended questions seeking drawn out responses. 

This is the new part: Your voice is likely being recorded, not for true verification but for possibly cloning your voice. The cloned voice could be used to mimic you calling your financial institution to access your account, or a family member asking them to send you money or a gift card. 

While to this point, no one in Big Horn County has reported experiencing a case of a voice clone getting access to money, there are reports of the phone calls coming in as noted above. Some law enforcement believe it may just be a matter of time. 

(Part II will cover other scams, including Facebook, PayPal, etc.)