New scam surfaces in Adams County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; When Linda Futrell checked her mail last week, she found a surprise &8212; a check for $1,998.89. A letter said she had won an international lottery and instructed her to deposit the check in the bank, then call a phone number for instructions on where to wire the money. The lottery, in turn, would send her $93,100.

&8220;But you know that old saying,&8221; Futrell said. &8220;If it&8217;s too good to be true, then it&8217;s too good to be true.&8221;

And it was.

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In fact, it was a scam. Futrell, who works as a victim assistant coordinator with the district attorney, recognized the inconsistencies.

&8220;Why would I need a check from a business in Pearl, Miss., if I&8217;d won a lottery based in Geneva?&8221; she said. &8220;They sent it to the wrong person.&8221;

District Attorney Ronnie Harper said this scam was different than similar ones he has seen in the past because it used the name, address, and even bank account of a real company.

Amenda Powell, accounts payable employee at Central Pipe Supply in Pearl, said the company started getting calls Oct. 30.

&8220;I would estimate 30 or 40 calls a day from all over the U.S., from California to New York,&8221; Powell said. &8220;It&8217;s unreal.&8221;

Powell said the scammers likely intercepted a check on its way to one of their suppliers. A previous scam also used their bank account number, she said, so the company closed the account listed on the checks.

The federal government has taken the case, Harper said. The scammers are operating outside the country, likely in Canada, he said, so it is difficult to catch them. And it is important that people not be taken in by this scam, he said.

&8220;Anytime you get something like this, you need to check with a law enforcement officer or with us,&8221; he said. &8220;People are wiring the money to the people scamming them. Then the check bounces, so you&8217;re the one left holding the bag.&8221;

Harper said he has seen four or five different scams in just the past three months. Sadly, many of the people who come to Harper&8217;s office have already wired the money, he said.

&8220;And then, there&8217;s not much we can do about it,&8221; he said.

As for Futrell, she won&8217;t be taking her co-workers out to lunch on a lottery winning anytime soon, but she won&8217;t be scammed out of $2,000, either.

&8220;But it makes you angry,&8221; she said, &8220;because you know there are people out there who&8217;ll fall for that.&8221;