CPSO on lookout for telephone scam

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VIDALIA — Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators want residents to know about a telephone scam that has already cost some to lose $12,000.

Investigator Phillip Webber said he has received calls from several parish residents who were told by a telephone caller that the residents had won a large cash prize and sometimes even a new car.

But in order to begin receiving their prize or get the keys to their new car, the callers tell the scam victims they must pay taxes on the winnings first.

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“The callers will even use names like Publishers Clearing House, so the people think it’s the real deal,” Webber said. “They say, ‘Hey you won $4.1 million and a Mercedes, but you need to start paying taxes on it before you can receive anything.’

“They start sending them some money here, some money there and before they know it they’ve lost thousands of dollars to these people.”

The majority of the callers, Webber said, come from international locations such as Jamaica and Africa. But when a resident gets a call they see a local number.

“They can put on the caller ID that they’re calling from Baton Rouge, Kentucky, Minnesota or wherever to make it look more real,” Webber said. “Some people even ask if it’s a scam and they’ll say, ‘No I’ll let you talk to my lawyer.’

“They will say anything and everything to try and get your money.”

Once the callers have convinced their victims, they request the money be sent by money order or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union.

“One lady had lost $7,000 and a month ago another person lost $12,000,” Webber said. “When they set the hook, they start digging deeper and deeper because they know they have them on the line.”

Since the calls originate from outside the country, Webber said the CPSO is unable to investigate the cases further than taking down all the information and contacting the attorney general’s office.

“Even though we can’t personally investigate them, we want people to know that they should contact us if they receive any calls like this or any other calls where people are asking for money over the phone,” Webber said. “A majority of these cases don’t get reported because the people are too embarrassed by how much money they lost, but if it will help stop this they need to come let us know.

“We strongly recommend residents not give out any personal information over the telephone and certainly not send any money for something like this.”

To report an incident or for more information regarding the scam, contact Webber at 318-336-5231.