Police warn of scammers

Published 9:43am Monday, January 13, 2014

The Wetumpka Police Department warns residents to beware of predators who are trying to scam people out of their money. The department is investigating several recent scam attempts – one of those claiming to be affiliated with Publishers Clearinghouse.
“One lady was supposedly contacted by Publishers Clearinghouse and told she had won a Mercedes,” said Wetumpka Police Chief Celia Dixon. “But they also told her she needed to go to Walmart and purchase a green dot (pre-paid credit) card in the amount of $750.”
The resident decided to call the police department who advised her against purchasing the card. The intended victim and police attempted to set up the scammer to no avail.
“We gave this lady all but the last four numbers on a green dot card we had in evidence at the department,” said Dixon. “She tried to talk the scammer into meeting her with the promised car in exchange for the card, but he wasn’t really even in the area and told her he would just give the car to another winner.”
In another attempted scam, a man was contacted and told he owed an additional $900 to his electric company.
He, too, was instructed to purchase a green dot card and furnish its numbers to the scammer.
Instead the man’s son contacted the utility company and was informed there was not an outstanding balance. The incident was then reported to police.
“We were not able to catch these individuals because they weren’t in the area, but they weren’t able to scam anyone either,” Dixon said.
She offered the following tips to citizens regarding sweepstakes, contests, utility companies, the IRS, etc.:
•PCH does not call or email their winners, neither does utility companies, sweepstakes and other contests or the IRS.
•Winners do not have to pay to receive a legitimate prize from any type of sweepstakes to take possession. The payment always comes later in the form of taxes, etc.
•Never cash a check that comes for a prize. Those checks aren’t legitimate but if they are the victim will be responsible and the thieves will be long gone
•If anyone buys some type of Visa or other card as instructed the scammer will usually ask them to scratch off the back for the number. Once they’re in possession of that number they can go online and get the money off the card — and that type of card is not traceable.
•Do not call the numbers listed on the winners notices. Scammers are talented at disguising themselves as real companies.
“The old rule of thumb applies,” said Dixon. “You never get something for nothing. And if it sounds to good to be true it usually is.”

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