Sheriff Russell Warns of Recent Phone Scams

Throughout the U.S. and recently here in Ouachita Parish, senior citizens are receiving scam calls from a caller identifying themselves as a family member, usually a son/daughter or grandson/granddaughter saying they have encountered an emergency situation and need cash assistance from the victim. The caller may say he or she has been arrested, been in a serious accident, or other types of emergency situations. In some cases, the caller identifies themselves as a lawyer or hospital representative representing the named family member and requests cash for fees, bond, medical procedures and other similar tactics.  Some victims have stated they noticed the voice did not sound quite right, but the caller would say they were hurt or had a cold, etc. In cases such as these, contact an immediate family member or members that would know if it were the son/daughter or whoever they claim to be and if they actually have a problem and need help.  In some cases, the potential victim, realizing the caller might be running a scam, has asked the caller for their home address or the name of their pet, etc., since the person calling, if legitimate, and would know the answer.  This usually leads to the caller immediately terminating the call…..thus a scam is averted.

Another scam is currently being worked in our area and has operated in Ouachita Parish recently.  The victim receives a call where the caller identifies themselves as an employee of Publishers Clearing House and states the victim has won the sweepstakes prize.  The victim is then instructed to first send cash money to an address to begin the taxation process.  The caller will then receive a second call or multiple calls instructing the victim to send more cash and that an IRS agent will contact the victim soon.  In the local case, the scam operation went so far as to send a local unsuspecting cab company to pick the victim up to take the victim to her bank so she could withdraw cash to send.  Publishers Clearing House never contacts winners in advance nor do they contact anyone through social media.

These are just two examples of SCAMS working throughout the U.S. Just as in the cases of the callers identifying themselves as the FBI, IRS, Entergy, and other type scams, the common thread is the caller always asks for credit card information, the wiring of cash to accounts and other personal data.

Never comply with any requests of this nature until you can verify the caller is the actual person they claim to be.  Should you comply and send cash money orders or personal information, be aware these scams are extremely difficult to solve, as most originate out of the U.S.  Once the money or card information is given, recovery of any loss is difficult at best.

Should you receive calls similar to this or that makes you suspicious of a scam, notify your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.