Bank president: Area scams on rise

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 5, 2006

Ferriday &8212; Getting something for a little bit of nothing sounds so good to some. For others, it causes financial problems that can&8217;t always be easily escaped.

Delta Bank President Cliff Merritt warns of the increasing number of fraudulent checks being sent to residents in the Ferriday area. The checks, Merritt said, are disguised as lottery winnings.

&8220;In the last several months we have seen an increase in Internet- based scams,&8221; Merritt said. &8220;The problem is people aren&8217;t aware of the scams, so we are trying to get the information out to them.&8221;

Email newsletter signup

Individuals are being contacted and asked to return social security numbers or money to be eligible for their winnings. This return service can take the form of thousands of dollars, most of which is never seen again, Merritt said.

&8220;The checks are associated with lotteries, and some have actually had winnings of $5, 10 or 15,&8221; Merritt said. &8220;But then when the person gets the check it&8217;s a lot bigger than original earnings and the check becomes a liability for the bank and the customer.&8221;

Some of the checks, which appear &8220;very legitimate,&8221; are being brought to the banks where some have even been cashed.

&8220;It&8217;s very difficult to get these checks cashed, but some are getting cashed,&8221; Merritt said. &8220;As a customer anything you come across that looks suspicious you should check out at your local bank.&8221;

Merritt also warned of the dangers of giving any personal information out over the Internet or over the phone.

&8220;Legitimate winnings don&8217;t require you to send them money, it&8217;s really just a waste of their time,&8221; he said.

&8220;The Internet is a very wonderful place, but also can be a very dangerous place.&8221;

Scams have become prevalent in the Ferriday area, where as many as five or six a week have been seen by Delta Bank, Merritt said.

&8220;These boiler room criminals are scattered all over the United States,&8221; Merritt said. &8220;When we cash a check, we are trusting the customer. The customers are the victims here.&8221;