CHICKASAW COUNTY – If someone calls you and says you’ve won, you may be headed for a loss.
One of the latest scams to hit Chickasaw County has a telephone call saying you’ve won a tractor, lottery or some type of sweepstakes and all you need to do is pay the taxes and you’ll get your prize.
“But it’s all bogus,” said James Myers, Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy. “There’s no tractor, there’s no lottery and you didn’t win the sweepstakes.”
Myers explained how the scam works
A person gets a phone call saying they have won a prize and all they have to do to claim the prize is pay the taxes or the fees to get it sent or shipped to them. The victim is then instructed to mail or — to speed things up to — wire the money to the caller or use a credit card.
“They ask for about $2,000 to $2,500,” said Myers. “The sad part is we had someone fall for it expecting they would get a tractor.”
Myers said his department traditionally sees one or two of these cases reported a year.
“We think they are randomly dialing numbers with a 542 prefix,” he explained. “We are getting from two to three reports a month about these kind of scams.”
Myers said never wire or send money to anyone you don’t know.
“A reputable business has no problem with you asking questions or taking your time to check things out,” said Myers. “If they pressure you to hurry up and send them the money or put some kind deadline in there, you need to think twice.”
Myers said once the money is mailed or wired, it’s gone.
“We have been in touch with both the Mississippi Attorney General’s office and the Public Service Commission about this,” said Myers. “The tractor scheme initially heads to Kentucky and then jumps to a wireless system that uses the internet. The Lottery or sweepstakes winner scam goes straight to Jamaica.”
Myers urged anyone who gets a suspicious call to hang up and dial 911 immediately. He said most people who are scammed are ashamed and rarely report the crime.
“Doing business over the phone and with credit cards is more and more common and people just need to be aware of these scams,” said Myers. “I tell people if it sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t. And if you are going to do business over the phone or internet, you need to be very, very careful.”