ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A new phone scam targeting the elderly has been reported to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's office by various residents over the past few days.
The sheriff's office says the caller makes some sort of threat against the person answering the phone and demands a cash payment to resolve the problem.
In this latest scam, the recipient of the call is told that a relative is being held hostage and will not be released until money is either wired via Western Union or a "Green Dot" card is obtained from a local retail outlet.
Green Dot cards are financial instruments that can be pre-loaded with funds, which are retrievable by anyone who has been given the code imprinted on the card.
Other recent scams have involved callers falsely claiming the victim has a warrant for their arrest or owes a large sum of money to the IRS for unpaid taxes. The callers may identify themselves as Sheriff's deputies or other government agents.
We want to remind our residents again that the Sheriff's office DOES NOT initiate phone calls such as these. Anyone who receives a call similar to these, or is in any way suspicious of a call from someone demanding an immediate cash payment, is asked to call the Sheriff's office.
"The scammers making these calls are committing the worst type of fraud imaginable - preying on the elderly," Sheriff Jack Strain said.
"Unfortunately, almost all of these calls are originating from overseas. The best way we can protect our residents is to educate them and encourage them to call us if they are at all suspicious," Strain said.
Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz says the Covington Police Department has also received similar complaints.
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