Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is urging residents to be cautious about suspicious persons, phone calls or mail items this holiday season as scam artists continue to prey on area residents.
“The holidays are a prime time for scam artists and identity thieves to go into overdrive,” said Sheriff Webre. “These thieves take advantage of the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the Christmas season by trying to defraud hard-working, unsuspecting citizens by stealing sensitive account information or conning victims into sending them money.”
Last month, a Lafourche Parish man received a call from someone claiming to represent a casino he had recently visited. The caller sounded official and even gave the man an identification number and prize number. He told the man to use a Green Dot MoneyPak card to send several hundred dollars in order to receive his prize. Luckily, at that point, the man recognized the call as a scam and did not provide any of his information. The call came from an 876 area code based in Jamaica, which is also a common sign of a scam.
In another recent scam, a Lafourche Parish woman was called by someone claiming to represent a computer software company. The caller told the woman her computer had been “hacked” and asked for several hundred dollars to fix the problem. She provided the caller with her bank account information, and was later contacted by her bank about possible fraudulent charges to her account amounting to several hundred dollars.
In both cases, the victim was presented with common signs of a scam. Sheriff Webre offers the following general signs that a phone call, salesperson, website or email is probably a scam:
- You are told to pay taxes or shipping charges for a larger sum of money or luxury prize.
- You are told to send payment “immediately” (for any reason) or suffer some consequence.
- You are not familiar with the caller, the company name, or they refuse to tell you.
- You are contacted by an unknown caller, but the caller I.D. shows your information or that of a friend or relative.
- The caller asks for sensitive account or personal information.
- The caller uses offensive or vulgar language.
- A government or law enforcement agency asks you to wire money immediately or give personal information for any reason.
If you experience any of these signs, hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door and report the call to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. If you believe the salesperson or call was legitimate, they will understand your concern. You can contact the company yourself with contact information you know to be valid and verify the call. Sheriff Webre said the bottom line is to use common sense and good practices such as never giving out personal information on an incoming call.