Scammers continue to plague citizens

By: 
Josh Presley
Staff Writer

Alleged telephone scams are a serious issue in West Point and Clay County, according to local law enforcement. Officials urge residents to be cautious when dealing with anyone over the phone, and to never give out their bank information.
West Point Police Department Assistant Chief Albert Lee said the department had seen a recent increase in identity theft reports.
“We ask the public to protect themselves by never giving out personal information and shredding documents that contain things like social security numbers and bank account numbers,” Lee said. “It only takes a skilled thief a few minutes to change your life forever.”
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said his department tries to educate the public about the danger of scammers, but people still fall prey to it.
“They’ll tell people anything, and if they aren’t successful, they’ll try back with something else,” Scott said in a previous interview. “These folks will try anything.”
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said residents should never give personal information over the phone unless it’s from a company or organization they’re familiar with.
“If the caller asks you to send any kind of money - whether it’s cash, check, money order, debit card or Western Union - it’s probably a scam,” Brinkley said. “The best thing to do is hang up. Don’t give them anything, including your time.”
FBI Special Agent Chris Cheatham said crimes such as lottery scams, recovery scams and identity theft had migrated online after typically not using technology in the past.
“They’re very slick in the way they do these scams,” Cheatham said in a previous interview. “They’ll tell the victims they have to pay in order to recover the money they’d lost. It goes on and on until the victim has lost thousands of dollars.”
He said residents should be suspicious of any offer that sounds too good to be true. He said to never engage telemarketers in conversation.
“Never provide any information over the phone,” he said. “Don’t confirm your date of birth and don’t tell them anything about bank accounts.”
Residents who wish to report an internet scam can visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. To report a scam of any kind, contact the FBI Columbus agency as 328-5299, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department at 494-2896, the West Point Police Department at 494-1244, Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers at 1-800-530-7151 or the Mississippi Public Service Commission at 877-382-4357.

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