WATAUGA — The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office is urging the public to not make purchases from unverified websites via the internet due to reports of scams.
Sheriff Len Hagaman stated on Aug. 20 that WCSO was made aware of numerous reports of individuals being scammed within Watauga County and in other states. He added that one of the more prominent scams was in relation to the purchase of dogs through internet websites that appear to be legitimate but “are run by malicious scam artists.”
“These scam artists take as much money as they can from those attempting to purchase dogs,” Hagaman said in a statement. “They claim to need large amounts of money to ship the animals, and when they don’t ship the animals, they provide a fake address that leads to people or property that have nothing to do with purchase of dogs.”
Hagaman said that people have come to Watauga County from numerous other states to seek the address provided by the scam websites.
WCSO advises that people do not purchase animals unless the buyer has physically seen the animals and can determine that they are legitimate. People are asked to contact the local authorities about addresses before responding in reference to any online purchases.
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office now also offers an “online trade zone,” Hagaman said in a statement. This zone allows individuals to utilize a neutral place to meet someone who is buying, selling or giving away merchandise by any online — or offline — “buy, sell or trade transaction,” he stated.
The trade zone is offered at the WCSO — located at 184 Hodges Gap Road — and has a 24-hour video camera that records a transaction. The video camera records a part of the main entrance of the concrete pad outside of the building and/or in the driveway and first quarter of the parking lot located to the east and directly across the street from Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Hagaman said several citizens had already utilized this zone for transactions involving several purchases made through avenues such as Craigslist and eBay. This is in addition to several child custody exchanges, Hagaman said, that are also captured on video.
For more information, call the sheriff’s office at (828) 264-3761.