Attorney general warns folks not to become victims

By Mike McDaniel - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - If you ask Attorney General Jim Hood, as long as there's someone willing to pay, there's a criminal willing to cash in.

"The most effective weapon in this area of identity theft, all these scams, is to prevent it," said Hood.

From bogus checks and letters, to phony calls and emails, acts of fraud continue to flood in to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

"There's always a new twist that comes up weekly or monthly," said Hood.

Crooks are getting creative, even dragging up old ways to con a quick buck. One popping up around the state has victims thinking they missed jury duty. Hood says a scammer calls someone pretending to be a court officer saying a warrant has been issued for the potential victim's arrest since they failed to show up for jury duty.

However, it all could be taken care of by simply paying a fine.

"So it creates an emergency situation and it involves your potential arrest and just anybody could fall for that thing if they don't hear about it," said Hood. "They're good, they call on the phone and they're friendly."

That rang true, literally, when Tommy Flynt of Moselle got a phone call recently from the American Sweepstakes Network.

"I'd won second place, little over $500,000," said Flynt.

It sounded so good Flynt almost paid the more than $4,000 in insurance to guarantee his win. It's another hoax Hood says is leaving Mississippians with empty bank accounts.

"It's much less risk than going in a robbing a bank and they can get a lot more money doing it," said Hood.

Crooks are even targeting your caller ID in whatHhood calls "spoofing". It's where a legitimate local number may show up, but the call is anything but.

"The best rule of thumb for people is that nobody in the court system, no one working for a bank, working for a legitimate business is going to call you on the phone and ask you for your personal information. That's just not going to happen," said Hood.