String of New Scams Hitting the Permian Basin Costing Residents Big Bucks

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Tis the season to give and get ripped off. 

With the holidays here, many West Texans dig deep to help those less fortunate, but if you're not careful someone could be stealing that cash right out of your wallet.

"It's a nationwide epidemic," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, said.

And with the holidays around the corner, that means scams are running rampant officials say it's more important than ever to know exactly where your donations are headed.

"People are giving," Sheriff Painter said. "They have good hearts and these kinds of things are going to come up at any holiday time of the year."

As technology becomes more sophisticated, crooks are finding new ways to make some extra cash.

"There's a lot of stuff going around right now on the internet," Sheriff Painter said. "There's some new stuff that's come up, still on the lottery scam where people are getting notified they've won and they're wanting people to put money up to pay for the transfer and it's a scam. Lottery winners are not notified through email."

The most popular ways are through phone calls, emails, or through the mail asking you to send personal information. And officials say senior citizens are the biggest target.

"Whenever you give out your bank account number, you give out your personal information, that is so dangerous," Sheriff Painter said. "Never never never do that."

Sheriff Painter says a good portion of the scams coming into the Basin are from places like Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

"Anything with those names on it, erase right away," Sheriff Painter said. "Don't open it up. If you don't know who it's from, erase it, delete it from your file."

But it's not just emails and phone calls. Local truck stops are getting hit hard by drivers who use fake gascards.

When the sheriff's office gets a call they file a report for fraud and notify the FBI. But all too often there's no way to trace the scam artist or get the money back.

"We have had calls from several citizens that have been hit for thousands of dollars and there's no way to recover it," Sheriff Painter said.