Sher­iff’s of­fice looks to help pre­vent fraud, scams

A re­tiree vol­un­teers to serve as a scam and fraud pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Blake Sil­vers BSil­

The Floyd County Sher­iff’s Of­fice has a new weapon to help pre­vent fraud and scams in the area.

On Wed­nes­day, Sher­iff Tim Burkhal­ter an­nounced the ap­point­ment of John Up­ton as the agency’s Scam and Fraud Pre­ven­tion Of­fi­cer, a po­si­tion that will main­tain on­line re­sources to “in­form the pub­lic re­gard­ing cur­rent scam schemes in the Rome-Floyd County area,” ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

“He just hap­pened to re­tire here in Rome,” Burkhal­ter said of Up­ton. “He came to me and wanted to vol­un­teer for some­thing that could make a dif­fer­ence.”

Re­cently re­tired as di­rec­tor of cam­pus safety at Ge­or­gia High­lands Col­lege, Up­ton will also lead ef­forts to pro­vide train­ing to com­mu­nity groups and lo­cal busi­nesses in the area of fraud pre­ven­tion.

Up­ton had pre­vi­ously held other high level po­si­tions in law en­force­ment be­fore mov­ing to Floyd County to re­tire. Burkhal­ter said the agency is lucky to have some­one with such an im­pres­sive re­sume in a vol­un­teer po­si­tion.

The sher­iff said cases of on­line and phone scam­mers are on the rise and that there isn’t much law en­force­ment can do about many of the cases once the money has changed hands. Of­ten, the scam­mers will even pre­tend to be from the govern­ment or lo­cal law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“I’ve had them call me while I’m in church be­fore beg­ging us not to pick them up,” Burkhal­ter said. “Ev­ery sher­iff I’ve talked to seems to have this same prob­lem in their county.”

Burkhal­ter said the idea for a ded­i­cated scam and fraud pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer now has legs and is ready to start walk­ing.

“We have been tar­get­ing the lo­ca­tions with Money Gram, Western Union and Ria money trans­fer desks in­side and speak­ing with store man­agers to set up a pro­gram to train cashiers to in­den­tify pos­si­ble scam sit­u­a­tions,” Burkhal­ter said. “We plan to add signs at point of sale lo­ca­tions to serve as re­minders that law en­force­ment will never so­licit money by phone or on­line. We’ve got to re­mind folks that if some­thing sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is.”

FCSO has al­ready col­lected in­for­ma­tion from the Se­cret Ser­vice, FBI and GBI dur­ing the plan­ning stages of their new fraud pre­ven­tion ef­forts, even speak­ing with ex­ec­u­tives at some of the money trans­fer com­pa­nies. Burkhal­ter said the pro­gram will only con­tinue to evolve to help pre­vent fraud be­fore it hap­pens.

For more in­for­ma­tion on how to sched­ule a fraud pre­ven­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram, con­tact Up­ton at up­tonj@floy­d­coun­ or call the FCSO at 706-2914111. Cit­i­zens may also visit the agency’s web­site at floyd­sh­er­ or on Face­book for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about scams.

John Up­ton

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