Selma Police are warning residents of phone scams

Published 9:16pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Selma residents see a number they don’t know appear on their caller ID, be advised that it could be a scam waiting to happen.

Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said he received a call from a concerned resident this week, alerting him of a call received from a man claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House.

“When the guy first called, he gave a name of Jack and said that he was from Publishers Clearing House and explained [to the man] how he had won $3.5 million and a Mercedes Benz,” Riley said. “Of course the citizen was very leery of this because he knew you don’t get something for nothing.”

When the man claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House called back, he asked the resident to send him $1,250.

Riley said, “This guy on the phone, who called himself Jack, tried to impress upon him, “Hey well we just need that [money] to pay off a few things so we can send you your money,” — but yet they’re coming off that they work for Publisher’s Clearing House.”

The resident told the police of the strange call they received and the police department investigated the phone numbers.

“The person kept calling back. They called back from a number of a 304-436-0611, and there was an alternate number of 702-516-5373. One of them came back to Jamaica; one of them came back to Charleston, West Va.,” Riley said. “We even had a number come back in the area of Las Vegas. That’s where these numbers are being routed to. There are systems now that can route a number to anywhere in the country.”

Riley warned that this is the season when scammers take advantage of the spirit of giving.

“This is that time of year, where they know a lot of Americans are going to have money. They definitely try to tap our senior citizens and the older populations because they’re much more giving,” Riley said. “So we want people to be very, very careful of this, and don’t give out any information, don’t give out any vital information and definitely don’t send anybody any money.”

This is not the first time scammers have targeted Selma residents. Last year, Riley said they received reports of these types of calls, and when they investigated they found the numbers were coming from Nigeria.

In years past, “they would try to get people to go to Walmart — one of those old Walmart scams and get money or some kind of way to send the money to them,” Riley said. “Of course the resident was smarter than that, that’s why they notified us to make us aware of it, so we can continue to make the public aware of it.”

Riley said it’s important for residents to alert the police of any suspicious phone calls, so they can check the numbers and continue to make others aware.

“Always try to get a call back number,” he said. “If they’re going to insist, get a call back number and let them know that you’re going to verify it through the police department.”

Riley said when this happens, they’re most likely not going to call back.

“The key is not to give out any information or any money, at all,” Riley said.

Because there have already been multiple reports of phone scams going around this year, Riley urged residents to continue to stay on guard and to notify the police.

“We ask them that if they do get calls like that then to notify the police department. The public has to be on guard, always on guard,” he said. “If it weren’t for the citizens calling us with this information, we wouldn’t be able to get it out and we want the citizens to continue calling us to help and make sure we protect our citizens in the city.”

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