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State Police won’t issue regular scam warnings

On April 10, we wrote in this space about scams. We talked about how they have gotten more prevalent and dangerous — including blackmail scams that recently drove two St. Lawrence County teenagers to suicide. We talked about how there are probably far more scam victims out there than anyone knows — how we know some, and know what a crushing blow it was to their dignity and emotional stability. They don’t want to talk about it, and police have said there is nothing they can do to catch the crimnals.

Sadly, that is largely true. Many of these predators are operating from foreign countries. We look forward to a future with better international police cooperation where these crooks can be nabbed, but for now, at least, local cops are not really equipped to deal with this modern crime wave.

But while their offense is stymied, they can still play defense.

In that editorial we called on State Police Troop B, based in Ray Brook, to provide regular updates on social media and to the media — we would publish them — letting people know what kind of scams they’re hearing about locally and what to look out for. Seeing specific warnings on a regular basis would harden people against scammers’ attempts. It would make them much less likely to be tricked.

It would also put people’s scam reports to police to good use. As of now, is anyone at headquarters doing anything with them? Those reports could be used right away to warn others.

Sadly, State Police said no. We went back and forth with them by email, and they recommended asking the state attorney general’s office. But when we asked the AG’s regional office in Plattsburgh, they said they don’t take scam reports and instead just refer people to the Federal Trade Commission, which advises people on how to protect themselves and their credit. That’s important damage control, but it’s not defense. It helps bandage wounds but provides no armor against future blows. It does nothing to help the next people that criminal will target.

We went back to the State Police after hearing from the AG’s regional office, but the officials in Ray Brook said they would not put out any kind of “Scam of the Week” or other regular notice; they said the decision came from the statewide public information office in Albany.

Instead, they said they will continue to do occasional advisories when they see trends or rises in particular scam activity. We can say from experience that such advisories are rare, while the threat is omnipresent.

This is very disappointing. We at the Enterprise can only warn people so much. Only a handful of people share with us scam attempts they received.Police are the go-to reporting source for that and other crime. That information, made public, could make us all safer.

It’s easy to become hopeless about this pervasive crime, but with a little more help from authorities, we could do a much better job of defending ourselves. We hope that will happen eventually.

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