Sheriff warns of scams

NEW CUMBERLAND-Out-of-town scammers are trying to get access to the home computers of Hancock County residents by pretending they are from the area, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department said.

A Weirton resident received a call from what appeared to be a local number listed under the name Danny McNelty but did not recognize the number, so multiple calls went unanswered, Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said.

“The resident finally answered the phone, to be greeted by a man with a foreign accent claiming to be from Microsoft,” Fletcher said. “The resident questioned this because of the local number and upset the caller, who then hung up.”

A woman receive a similar call from someone requesting information about her home computer, but she became suspicious and hung up, Fletcher said.

Other people have not been as lucky. Hancock County sheriff’s detectives have received complaints about similar scams, including cases where people have been fooled.

“It is possible for anyone to spoof a phone number to make it seem like it is from the local area,” Detective Chris Waide said. “There are even smartphone applications that allow people to call under different numbers.”

Detective Matt Harvey said some people have paid for services, only to find out too late that it was a scam. Scammers have produced a program on the computer and then coaxed people into making additional purchases for services, he said.

Fletcher said people should be wary of callers requesting personal, financial and computer information. Anyone who has received such a call should contact the sheriff’s department at 304-564-4100 or through Tip411.