Police warn residents of phone scams

Published 7:59pm Friday, August 2, 2013

Several local residents have reported receiving phone calls or messages announcing a big win from Publisher’s Clearing House — the message however comes with a catch, to withdrawal money from places like Walmart and send it in to redeem the reward. Police warn residents this call is in fact a scam and Publisher’s Clearing House confirmed they only award consumers face-to-face.

“This same scam pops up at least twice a year,” Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said.

The calls, he said, have been coming from areas like Kingston, Jamaica and other island countries in addition to Africa and Asia — and never from inside the continental United States.

Riley advised residents to never give out any personal information, check with the phone company to block that particular number, never verify residence or location, and he said the key is to never send any money.

“If somebody ever gets your information, even if it’s just a little piece of it — it can be disastrous for you in the long run,” Riley said. “ Nothing in this world is free, there’s always a catch, so don’t fall for it. It’s always a swindle.”

Police also advised residents that have been called by a scammer, to call the police station and alert them of the situation.

“We tell people if someone says you’ve won Publisher’s Clearing House — go find the number and call it yourself, don’t get involved with people that call your house like that,” Riley said.

Police said scammers often target the elderly, as they can be “easy targets” for swindling money.

“They recognize that the elderly can be over-generous and sometimes gullible to a degree,” Riley said, noting scammers do their homework and can research people and their property information on the Internet before ever even calling them.

Riley said if scammers continue to call, alert the caller the police will be notified for harassing phone calls. He added the often department tries to trace some of the scammers’ numbers, but more often than not those numbers are from burn phones or dead numbers.

“It’s just a gimmick and we ask people to be smart about it,” he said. “When in doubt, just hang up.”

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