01STOCK_MONEY2

JANESVILLE

A rural Rock County man told sheriff’s deputies that he was scammed out of as much as $250,000, an amount one official said was the largest he could remember locally.

Capt. Mark Thompson, who has worked for the Rock County Sheriff’s Office for almost 23 years, told The Gazette on Wednesday that the exact amount the man lost is still under investigation, “but it appears to be between $150,000 and $250,000.”

“I don’t recall anything reaching close to that amount in recent history,” he said.

The sheriff’s office received the fraud complaint Feb. 5.

The man said someone claiming to be a fraud investigator for FedEx needed money to catch a person in a sting operation, according to a sheriff’s office report. The man also said he was approached by someone claiming to be an FBI agent who was trying to catch a money-laundering group out of Chicago.

The man sent “multiple wire transfers to multiple accounts out of Singapore and Bangkok … with the promise that the funds would be replenished,” the report states.

The man sent a wire transfer for $49,500 to Bangkok on Feb. 4, but the report states that Wells Fargo is working to stop that transfer. Thompson said Wednesday that he was not sure if that attempt was successful or not.

At this point, the sheriff’s office is the only agency investigating the matter, he said.

Thompson encouraged people to trust their instincts when it comes to potential scams. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.

While this operation appears to be more sophisticated than others, Thompson said people who request gift cards as payment should raise an immediate “red flag.”

Another recent case involved a person who pretended to be a law enforcement officer. Thompson said the sheriff’s office never asks for payment over the phone.

He said there is always a chance that law enforcement will catch whoever scammed the rural Rock County man, but he said these kinds of cases are “very difficult.”