Tough lessons: Scammers can hit hard, hurt

Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin warns residents of scams.
Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 9:43 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Scams can occur over the phone or on social media.

Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin knows all about the false phone routines.

Hattiesburg resident Michelle Crampton can tell you all about the social media flim-flam.

Both Berlin and Crampton are trying to make people aware of the grand deceivers out there.

“I have encountered it first-hand myself on Facebook, where the scammers camouflage themselves as one of my friends on my friends list,” Crampton said

Worse, an elderly aunt was taken for about $5,000 in a scheme that just kept stretching out, with each hesitation needing money to solve a small hiccup.

A fee here.

A fee there

Insurance.

Shipping.

Walmart gift cards will take care of things.

Thank you.

“She automatically thought that she was getting a grant for one hundred thousand dollars, but that she had to pay the insurance for the delivery, and we had to and then pay for something else,” Crampton said. “Well, constantly it became her dipping into her savings, running back and forth for gift cards to send to these people.”

Berlin has seen it up-close-and-personal as well.

In fact, some neer-do-wells are imitating folks from his office on a recorded message, saying they are from the Jones County Sheriff’s Department’s Warrants and Civil Process Division , that money is owed, and that bad things are ahead for those disinclined to pay.

Berlin is not amused, to say the least.

“We don’t call anybody, even if they owe us money,” Berlin said. “We’re sure not going to try to convince them that since they didn’t go to federal court, we have a fine for them, because that would be handled by the U.S. Marshals Service.

If we want you, we’ll come get you.”

Crampton said common sense can work as a superior sorting tool when trying to assess a scam.

“If the picture is different, how the person talks, is that their normal talk?” Crampton said. “They will immediately go into, ’Hey, have you heard about this? There’s this great grant that you can get a lot of money for or are you interested in earning some extra cash,’ or something.

“And then you find out after they’ve talked for an hour or you say call me, that they are not willing to call. Also, if the language is not something that your friend would use normally.”

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