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'If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010, at 3:51 PM
"They was two Spanish Scammers a-sendin' stuff by mail, An' they snatched up people's money and cleaned out their accounts!
An' the Scammers'll git you too, ef you don't watch out!"
So I'm a James Whitcomb Riley fan, and that's not exactly what he said, but maybe it got your attention.
Scammers are out there and they want to get hold of your money. There's been lots of articles in the paper about the need to beware of some of their schemes, and yet, people continue to fall for some of their crooked deals.
Jarrod Holtsclaw called me last week -- he's the Greene County prosecutor -- he has a message for everyone in the county, but most especially for our senior citizens.
It is to be careful not to fall for the schemes of scammers.
In his position, Holtsclaw sees a lot of this scammin' stuff, and says he gets it too, in his personal mail and in his e-mail box. The scammers probably don't realize he's a prosecutor -- if they did, bet they'd take that name off their list!
Last week a man from Newberry contacted Holtsclaw about a letter he received in the mail. It came from France. Congalotto! It said the man had won $1,815,950 in a Spanish lottery, it was very exciting, it used lots of big words and twisted-up legal jargon, and basically said the man needed to contact this "attorney" to set up the arrangements to put this money into his account. Hmm, not a good idea -- don't think so. The man had not been to Madrid lately and had not entered any lotteries in Spain.
Holtsclaw says a lot of the scams that are around right now are devised to get your bank account information, or your credit card or debit card numbers. Don't do it!
Using your account information or a card to purchase something online, in a transaction that you have initiated, is one thing, but giving your info out to someone who out of the blue just happens to call you on the phone is quite another. If they can manage to get you to fall for their fakery, and they can get hold of those numbers, quick as a wink you're account could be cleaned out, your money is gone, and you'll never hear from them again.
Some people have even gotten calls from someone who claims to be from a bank, and for some official sounding and important reason, they need to verify your account numbers. Or they might say they are auditing the bank's accounts and are verifying information ... don't fall for this either. Holtsclaw says he's gotten these calls too but he banks at a local bank and he knew they didn't need to verify his numbers.
Unfortunately, many of these scammers seem to target senior citizens. Whoa! What's that about? Senior does not mean stupid -- it means wise to the ways of the world and what's out there.
It's true that some people do win prizes in sweepstakes and lotteries, and that could happen to you. But in these times, scammers are taking advantage of people with these "you've won this" and "you've won that" e-mails and letters. For awhile, there were letters from people who said they were from Nigeria and just needed a little help. There's always something.
Just don't fall for it. Read carefully. Then throw this stuff away and hang up that phone when they call.
If you get a call, and can't determine whether it's for-real or a scam, ask for their call-back phone number. If you get a letter, and can't determine whether it's for-real or a scam, hang on to it. Then, call your local police department or contact the prosecutor's office with this information and get their opinion. Be safe with your money rather than sorry.
Holtsclaw, LPD Chief Troy Jerrell and other officers all say the same thing about these scams ... "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Anna is a staff writer at the Greene County Daily World and can be contacted by calling 847-4487 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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