Crime Stoppers / Alachua County & Gilchrist County
You can earn reward money if you have information regarding a crime. You don’t need to give your name or any information about yourself. There’s no Caller ID. You can remain completely anonymous. You’ll be given a code number and if your information leads to an arrest, that code number gets you the reward.
Call Alachua County Crime Stoppers at (352) 372-STOP.
FRAUD/ SCAM ALERTS
Examples of Potential Scams
Misleading Phone Calls
Some customers report receiving phone calls from individuals identifying themselves as Duke Energy employees or a third-party representative of Duke Energy. In some cases, the customer’s caller identification will display Duke Energy’s name or phone number.
The caller attempts to obtain customer account or personal information. Other callers may threaten immediate service disconnection – usually within an hour – if immediate payment is not made with a prepaid debit card.
Occasionally, Duke Energy MAY call you to discuss your account. If we do, we will provide you with information that only you and Duke Energy would know in order to validate that our call is legitimate. If, after receiving the information, you are uncomfortable providing personal information by phone, or if you believe the call is a scam, hang up and call the company directly at 1-800-544-6900.
Duke Energy customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications from the company over the course of several weeks prior to electric service disconnection – never just a single notification one hour before disconnection. Customers can also make payments online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, my mail or in person.
Scam artists claiming to be Duke Energy employees are telling customers they have the ability to wipe out entire account balances – for a cash fee. Please know that no one from Duke Energy will ever offer to pay a customer’s bill in exchange for a fee. Duke Energy only charges convenience fees for payments using its automated phone system and one-time payments made through its website. The company does not charge customers extra fees for paying their bills by mail, at authorized pay agent locations or through customers’ online banking services.
If you have a question about whether someone is a legitimate representative of Duke Energy, contact the company directly at 1-800-544-6900 to verify the person’s identity. Call police immediately if you believe the person is an imposter.
Posted on the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office website
JURY DUTY SCAMS IN ALACHUA COUNTY
Some Alachua County residents are receiving phone calls from a person identifying himself as “Capt. Holloway of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.” The incoming calls show up with a 352 area code prefix making them appear to be local. The caller then advises them that they missed jury duty and instructs them there is an instant fine associated with this and if it is not paid their drivers license will be “flagged.” They are provided a phone number and instructed to secure a pre-paid credit card or money order in the amount of the “fine.” They are also provided with a number to call back once they have secured payment.
Typically when the caller calls the number back that has been provided they get an answering machine that greets them with, “Alachua County Sheriff’s Office we are unable to take the call right now, please leave a message. The scammer then calls the victim back relatively quickly.
- If you receive one of these calls hang up immediately and notify law enforcement.
- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
- The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, nor the Alachua County court system solicit fine moneys over the phone.
- You can reach the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office at 352-367-4000 or the Alachua County Clerk of the Courts at 352-374-3618 to verify information.
- Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date on the latest scams occurring in Alachua County.
We also continue to receive calls from citizens who have been targeted by suspects representing themselves as agents from local businesses such as Gainesville Regional Utilities, Clay Electric, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and most recently Walmart in an effort to secure payment with a prepaid Green Dot Visa gift card. In a recent case involving the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, a citizen was notified that they had an active Alachua County warrant and needed to send a prepaid Green Dot Visa gift card in the amount of $1000.00 to resolve the warrant. In another case, the suspect represented themselves as Walmart and told the citizen that there was a problem with their layaway and that in order to resolve that balance they needed to send a prepaid Green Dot Visa gift card. Please do not send anyone a prepaid Green Dot Visa gift card without first verifying that the problem is legitimate first.
It is important that all residents be aware of these scams in order to keep from becoming a victim. Please call the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office at 352-955-1818 if you receive a call that involves a scam.
Posted on GRU website on 8/7/2014
GRU Warns Business Customers of Scam
GRU is cautioning citizens to beware of a scam targeting non-residential customers. Some business customers have received phone calls from someone claiming to be a GRU representative, saying that the customer must make an immediate payment using a cash-reload card to avoid having their utility service disconnected.
A scammer called one restaurant during the lunch rush and claimed to be a GRU representative extending a courtesy call prior to disconnecting the business’s electric service in 45 minutes. The phone number showed up in the caller ID as a GRU number.
GRU does not contact business or residential customers by phone to demand payment or personal information. If you receive this type of call, please do not comply with the request. If you are unsure about the authenticity of communications appearing to be from GRU, please contact Customer Service at 352-334-3434. If the correspondence is deemed suspicious, you should then report it to the Gainesville Police Department at 352-955-1818 or to www.stopfraud.gov.
Posted on GRU website on 1/17/2014
GRU Warns Customers of New Email Scam
GRU is cautioning customers to beware of an email scam targeting utility customers.
The emails appear to come from legitimate utility companies such as FPL, Pacific Gas & Electric and possibly GRU. They often contain the subject line “Energy Statement” or something similar and are designed to resemble a monthly bill.
These messages are phony and may contain malicious malware. Customers who receive an email that looks different from their normal bill or seems suspicious in any way should delete it immediately. They should not open it, click any links contained within the message or provide any personal information.
GRU will never call or email customers to demand payment. Customers who are unsure about the authenticity of correspondence appearing to be from GRU can contact GRU’s Customer Service Department at 352-334-3434 or visit the GRU website to verify their account status. If the correspondence is deemed fraudulent, customers should then report it to the Gainesville Police Department at 352-955-1818 or to the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Example of Fraudulent Email
Email messages similar to this one should be deleted immediately.
Identity Theft Protection Posted on GRU website
GRU is strengthening efforts to protect customers from theft and fraud
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the fastest growing and most financially devastating crime in the U.S. It occurs when someone uses your personal information (name, social security number, driver’s license number, etc.) without your permission.
Thieves can use this information to open a new account, add to an existing account or conduct many other fraudulent transactions. Identity theft can damage your credit rating and cause substantial harm to you and GRU.
What is GRU doing to protect you?
GRU takes several measures to protect customers from theft and fraud, including:
- Performing a credit check for all new accounts to validate information such as date of birth, name and social security number and to see if customers have placed a fraud alert on their credit reports,
- Developing an alert system for “red flag” activities that indicate the possible risk of identity theft,
- Providing customers who are at risk for identity theft with the option to place a hold on their account and require additional verification when making changes to their account.
GRU is committed to doing everything possible to protect customers from identity theft and fraud and maintaining compliance with federal requirements, such as the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website for more information.
The High Springs Police Department has recently responded to a number of calls for service regarding the passing and/or attempted passing of counterfeit currency at local businesses. Businesses who encounter an individual attempting to pass counterfeit currency are asked to call the High Springs Police Department at (352) 955-1818 or the United States Secret Service Field Office.
According to the United State Secret Service, “Every year the public is victimized by the counterfeiting of United States currency and other U.S. obligations. Those who fail to carefully examine the money they receive or who cash checks and bonds without requesting proper identification are potential victims. Only with the public’s cooperation can the United States Secret Service reduce and prevent these crimes.”
UPDATED: July 27, 2015 / High Springs Man Arrested for Uttering a Forged/Counterfeit Bill
Although a counterfeiting arrest was made, this is an active investigation and suspect other individuals are connected to these crimes being committed throughout Alachua County. Businesses should stay vigilant in checking the authenticity of the United States Currency being passed.
Please review the U.S. CURRENCY Know Your Money” information published by the United States Secret Service.
CRIME PREVENTION TIPS
The High Springs Police Department urges residents, visitors and business owners to partner with police to “target harden” their homes, business, property and vehicles.
SECURING YOUR HOME, BUSINESS AND VEHICLE
The term, “target hardening,” refers to the strengthening of the security of a building or vehicle to prevent unauthorized entry and reduce the risk of theft.
Making your home and business safe from crime starts with properly locked doors and windows, proper home security lighting, maintained landscaping and practicing home security tips.
Closing curtains and blinds during evening hours target hardens your home by making it more difficult for criminals to see your belongings, like flat screen TVs and artwork.
Sliding glass doors should have either a lock-pin system, rod and/or “Charley Bar” placed in the track to prevent entry.
Install additional locks on windows and sliding glass doors besides the factory installed locks. This can be as simple as using a pin system so the window cannot be opened unless the pin is removed from the inside.
Target harden your vehicles by locking the doors, not leaving any valuables in plain view and/or removing all valuables entirely. When it comes to your vehicle be sure not to leave purses, wallets, computers, cell phones, money, change, sunglasses, book bags, garage door openers, etc. in your vehicle.
PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY
- Lock your doors and windows.
- If you have an alarm system, use it.
- Avoid making valuables visible from windows and doors.
- Do not announce you will be away on social network sites or answering machines.
- Set an automatic timer for your lights when you are away.
- Ask a trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on your home when you are away.
- Install exterior security lighting around the perimeter of your home.
- Leave outside lights on after dark. Use motion detecting, dusk to dawn, solar and/or flood lights.
- Make sure all entries, porches, driveways, backyards and patio areas have security lighting.
- Keep landscaping trimmed and well maintained to limit hiding places.
- For large amounts of landscaping, consider installing extra lighting to compensate for darkness.
- Make sure your landscaping does not obstruct lighting fixtures.
- Install a double deadbolt lock with a 1 inch throw.
- Install a “Strike Latch Plate” on entry doors to prevent doors from being pried open.
- Install a “Charley Bar” to secure sliding glass doors and prevent the door from opening. Consider purchasing a bar equipped with an alarm.
- Install a doorknob/glass vibration sensor on your entry doors and windows to provide additional alerts if someone is tampering with your doorknob.
- Never leave house keys outside “hidden” under a flower pot, door mat or in the mailbox.
PROTECTING YOUR VEHICLE
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and windows closed.
- Do not leave valuables in plain site in your vehicle.
- Place items out of sight BEFORE reaching your destination. Someone may be watching you park and put valuables under the seat or in the trunk. The moment you are gone, a thief could break in.
- Never leave your purse attended in your vehicle, especially when pumping gas.
- Avoid leaving packages or shopping bags in your vehicle. If you are leaving your vehicle unattended and you cannot take your valuables with you, lock them in the trunk or in a locked glove compartment.
- Always park in busy, well lit areas where there is a lot of activity.
- Engage your vehicle alarm or anti-theft device.
- Thieves usually look for easy targets and if you have an alarm, it acts as a deterrent,
- Never leave spare keys in your vehicle. Store spare keys in your wallet, purse or with a trusted neighbor.
- Do not leave garage door openers in your vehicle, especially while parked in your driveway.