Meridian Star

May 7, 2013

LCSD officials: Beware of scams

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —   

    Officials with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department are warning residents about two scams that are circulating in East Mississippi. One involves using the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department name while the other tries to dupe residents with a well known sweepstakes moniker.

    LCSD Chief Dep. Ward Calhoun said Monday morning that residents are being called about possible fines the residents may owe the county. Calhoun said the caller tries to use scare tactics in order to get money from residents.

    "These people will tell you that you owe the county money in regards to fines and if you pay today the charge will go away. If not, you could lose your job or even be arrested," Calhoun said. "Well, this is bogus and I hope no one falls for this. We, as a law enforcement agency, would not call you for this and you should just hang up on these people."

    The other scam uses Publishers Clearinghouse as the hook. Calhoun said residents have been called about their winning a lot of money and a car. The caller tells the resident, in what Calhoun said is with a very excitable voice as if to make the announcement more believable, the resident must send in a certain amount of money, usually around $999, to cover the handling and delivery of the new vehicle and to expedite the award of the cash prize.

    "Again, if someone from Publisher's Clearinghouse doesn't knock on your door with flowers, a large check and video cameras rolling, then it is a scam," Calhoun said. "As a rule, whenever someone calls you to get money out of you, especially using sweepstakes tactics, it just isn't worth your time."

    And Calhoun said if a caller asks for credit card, personal check or bank account information, don't give it to them.

    "The best way to handle these people is to hang up on them," Calhoun said. "They will move on to someone else."

    Calhoun said there isn't much a law enforcement agency can do to catch these types of scammers because many times they are calling from a foreign country.