Sheriff warns about scams

Published 7:33 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal has issued a warning about some new scams that are widespread in the area.

According to Seal, within the past few days a resident of the parish was called from someone representing herself as an employee of a company that could lower all of his credit card interest rates to 3 percent. She convinced him to enroll with her company for a $795 fee. In so doing, he gave her his credit card numbers and expiration dates, his date of birth and his social security number.

Concerned afterwards that he had been the victim of a scam, the local resident called his credit card company and learned that no such company exists to lower interest rates. In such scams, the call usually comes from an 800 number, Seal said.

Another scam that has recently surfaced involves a caller representing him/herself as a law enforcement official. The caller says there is an active warrant for the arrest of the person contacted, but that the warrant had been issued in error and all the resident has to do is verify his or her date of birth and social security number so the warrant can be recalled. Often, a small fee is attached to the fictitious service so that a credit card number can also be obtained from the victim.

A third scam is a call from Jamaica informing the resident that he or she has won the Jamaican Lottery. Jamaica does not have an international lottery, and playing foreign lotteries is illegal in the United States, Seal said. Also, it is illegal for any agency to require the winner of a lottery or prize to pay in order to receive their compensation, he said.

The sheriff said those are just three examples of scams operating in Washington Parish, and he warns all residents to be very cautious in giving personal information to anyone.

Seal offered the following advise:

• If anyone calls stating they are from your bank or credit card company, do not give them any personal information. Your bank or credit card company already has your personal information and would never ask for information over the telephone.

• If anyone calls you stating that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, hang up and call the sheriff’s office at 839-3434. If the sheriff’s office has a warrant for your arrest, you will not be called.

• Never provide any personal or financial information to anyone soliciting information over the telephone.

• If you are contacted by anyone with “good news” from Jamaica, hang up. You have not won the Jamaican Lottery.

“Please do not fall for any of these scams,” Seal said. “The people who are calling you are crooks whose only interest is stealing your money. Don’t even talk to them. Hang up!”