Officials warn of area phone, Internet scams

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 6, 2015

NATCHEZ — Officials are warning residents about two scams potentially seeking to obtain money and personal information.

Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said he received a message last week from someone dialing from 206-395-3667 claiming to represent the IRS. The caller claimed the IRS intended to sue Gardner and that he needed to return the call.

Gardner contacted Silas Simmons accounting firm, which confirmed the call was a scam.

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Silas Simmons CPA Carr Hammond said IRS only corresponds via mail

“The IRS is only going to contact you through mail, not through email or a phone call,” Hammond said. “If you receive contact from someone claiming to be from the IRS and it’s in any form other than mail, it’s definitely a scam.”

The Administrative Office of Courts is alerting residents to an email scam intended to persuade recipients to click on and open an attachment or a link that will cause the recipient’s computer to become infected with a computer virus, public information officer Beverly Pettigrew Kraft wrote in an email.

The suspicious e-mails claim to be a notice, Kraft said, to attend a court proceeding, although the e-mail recipient is not involved in any litigation. Persons who are not involved in litigation would not receive such emails from the Mississippi courts, Kraft said.

Spammers may create sender addresses, Kraft said, that mimic government agency addresses.

Kraft said email users are warned not to open an attachment or link in unsolicited e-mail fitting this description. Opening the attachment may expose the user’s computer to malware or allow the spammer to collect sensitive information.

The recent recurrence of spam disguised as court correspondence is a variation of a scam, Kraft said, that has appeared around the country for several years. Earlier similar scam emails stated that the recipient’s complaint had been received by the court, and attempted to get the recipient to open a link or an attached document. Recipients of those emails had not filed anything with the courts. Other variations reference nonexistent arrest warrants or encourage the recipient to send money.

Kraft said if in doubt about the authenticity of e-mail correspondence, independently look up a telephone number and call the court named in the e-mail.