St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne is warning residents to be on the lookout for phone scams after several residents have received suspicious calls.
In one of the calls, an elderly Luling woman was told that she had won $5 million from Publishers Clearing House. A short while later, the woman received another call from a Jamaican phone number telling her that she would receive $2.5 million of her winnings because the rest would go to taxes. All she had to do to collect the money was wire $499 to the man from the Wal-Mart in Boutte.
The woman knew that it was a scam and immediately contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
Champagne offered a few tips for residents to use in order to avoid being taken advantage of:
•If you get a call saying you’re a winner, don’t pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate operations won’t require you to pay to collect your winnings.
• Know that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.
•Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You’re responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank.
•Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information. It doesn’t matter whether the message comes as an email, phone call, text message or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message either, which is called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information.
• If you think you have been scammed, immediately notify the Sheriff’s Office by calling 911.