Sheriff warns Pike County of senior scams

Published 9:16 am Thursday, January 19, 2012

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

More than one Pike County senior has fallen victim to recent scams, according to Sheriff Russell Thomas.

“In the last few days, we’ve been made aware of two elderly females in our county that have sent large amounts of money to people over the past several months,” Thomas said.

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In one case, a woman sent $10,000 to a “company” in Jamaica after being contacted and told that she’d won the Jamaica Publisher’s Clearing House. Her prize was $3 million, but she would need to pay taxes on the award before she could collect the funds.

Later, the scammer contacted the woman again for more money because her prize package also included a Mercedes Benz.

Even though Thomas said he would be contacting other law enforcement agencies about the local cases, but there is little that can be done.

“Once you send the money, it’s gone,” Thomas said. “You never see it again.”

In another local case, a scammer convinced a woman she’d won the lottery and needed to send in $2,500 in order to collect her winnings. She sent money to New York, Jamaica and Winchester, Va.

“It happens constantly,” Thomas said. “Its just scam after scam out there.”

Thomas said there have been other instances locally where people were approached by scammers who pretended to be with the Internal Revenue Service, with the Social Security Administration, or a family member in jail who needed bail money.

Sometimes the scenario can seem even more dire.

Thomas said he even knew of a local case where a woman was told scammers had been hired to kill her, and unless she paid the scammers more money, she would die.

“The bottom line is, never give anyone your personal information, bank account number, social security number or any other information to people over the phone or who you don’t know,” Thomas said, adding that people who think they may be a victim of a scam should call the police or talk to a family member.

“The simple solution,” Thomas said, “is to hang up the phone.”