FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Forrest County Sheriff’s Office is reminding Pine Belt residents that what may appear as a Christmas miracle could be the opposite.
The holiday season is when scammers make their biggest push of the year to prey on vulnerable people.
“Unfortunately, especially at the holidays some people find themselves short of cash and I’ve heard someone say, ‘I thought this was a blessing. You know this was going to fix all of the issues I was going to be able to do a good Christmas,'” said Forrest County Chief Investigator Phillip Hendricks.
Hendricks said lately the scammers behind these bogus calls and messages have been targeting a specific group.
“One of the things that we’ve had reported to us lately is people getting calls of someone posing as either an attorney or a bondsman. They’re generally targeting elderly citizens,” said Hendricks.
And they have sophisticated ways of making themselves appear credible and legitimate.
“A lot of time scammers are actually going on the social media and they’re learning facts about the elderly person’s loved ones so that when they start talking they know the correct name, they know where they’re in college at or where they’re in school or what city so they have a lot of convincing background story that can suck the person in,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks points out two major red flags people should look for when getting phone calls and messages from odd numbers.
“If the person is saying that you’ve won some kind of prize and there’s a fee that you have to pay in order to claim your prize or a processing fee, that’s going to be a scam," Hendricks said. “Publishers Clearing House and legitimate prizes are never going to have some kind of fee that you have to pay on the front end.”
Another clue should raise suspicions as well.
“There’s incorrect use of the English language," Hendricks said. “A lot of these scams are originating in countries where either English is not their first language or they don’t speak English at all. Some of them are actually using translation software.”
If it sounds too good to be true, likely it is.