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Scams bilk Utahns out of thousands of dollars, and they’re on the rise

Scams come in all kinds of packages, government agencies, police impersonators, utility companies, banks, and other ruses.

Scamming operations have Summit County law enforcement on high alert. Know what not to do!

If you get a text from your credit union telling you a deposit isn't cleared and you must click a link to finish the transaction, don't do it.

You should also not click a link if a menacing email message pops up in your inbox saying to check in online for a jury duty commitment.

Summit County Sheriff's Captain Andrew Wright said scams come in various packages. He said even he gets hit by scammers claiming they're from his credit union.

A Utah woman recently deposited $22,000 into a bitcoin account, which turned out to be a scam. Scammers use fear tactics, but Wright said the best protection is to use common sense and call law enforcement to clarify.

"If someone calls and purports to be a law enforcement officer or a government agent, IRS agent, whatever, saying hey, you better pay this money or else. If they're demanding, go put money in a Bitcoin ATM or send them gift card numbers or wire money. My goodness, that's just not how it's ever operated and will never operate that way."

The impacts can be financially devastating. Wright said recovery is virtually impossible because the scammers hide their IP addresses and often operate from other countries.

"It's so sad to see people literally draining bank accounts because they're scared that they're in trouble, and it's like, no, that's not how the justice system works," Wright said. We don't use scare tactics. We don't ever ask for money, on the phone or via electronic communication. We just don't do that."

Wright said fraud could appear to be from the most unsuspecting places like a utility company or customs agency.

"Yeah, I mean, it could be something as simple as a utility bill that someone claims to be with Rocky Mountain Power," Wright said. "You better pay up or we're going to shut off your power. I mean, it's like okay, well then come shut off my power. There was another one the other day of someone saying that they were a US customs agent and that they have criminal activity on someone, and they ended up sending $2,200."

Wright warns citizens never to click on a request for money or information. If anyone has concerns about being scammed, the Summit County Sheriff's office is available to answer questions.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.