The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office is warning residents of a scam that seems to be targeting the elderly.
The sheriff's office states that the scam involves an unknown male pretending to be from Publisher's Clearing House. Sheriffs say an elderly woman received calls from a man claiming she had won $5 million.
A second call was received a short time later from a phone number in Jamaica stating that the woman would receive $2.5 million and the rest would go to taxes if she was present at the Walmart in Boutte, La. with $499.
Authorities say the woman knew that this was a scam and did not meet this person and immediately notified the Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office offers these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam:
- If you get a call saying you're a winner, don't pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate operations won't require you to pay to collect your winnings.
- Know that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it's nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don't wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
- Don't agree to deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You're responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you're responsible for paying back the bank. No matter how convincing the story, someone who overpays with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.
- Don't reply to messages asking for personal or financial information. It doesn't matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don't click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It's called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.
- Report Scams – if you think you have been scammed immediately notify your local Sheriff's Office.