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Citizen warns seniors: Don't be fooled by phone scams

Seth Leonard
sleonard@salisburypost.com
Elderly citizens should be wary of an ongoing telephone scam involving a promise of prize money.
A local man, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid further calls, received a phone call from the International Sweepstakes Center in Las Vegas. The caller, who had an accent similar to that of someone from the Indian subcontinent, claimed the local man had won a $2.5 million prize through Publisher’s Clearing House. Since he has sent information to Publisher’s Clearing House for years, the idea seemed almost legitimate.
The only catch was that a $700 security deposit was needed to ensure the money reached its destination.
That was until instructions were given to call a Mr. Parker for further information. When Mr. Parker answered, it seemed he was the same person as the previous caller using a different name. He said someone from his company would come to pick up the deposit. Upon further investigation, Mr. Parker’s number appeared to be from Kingston, Jamaica, not Las Vegas.
Others from across the state have been targeted by this or similar scams recently. It is possible that those responsible use information acquired from Publisher’s Clearing House or other means. Just because a caller seems to have information about you doesn’t mean they are genuine.
The North Carolina Department of Justice works to reduce the number of people cheated by similar scams. They have several tips to help people avoid being taken in.
– Never send money to telemarketers who say you have won a prize. It is illegal to have to send money to cover expenses or as a security deposit. If the company sends you a check or similar item, it is most likely fake.
– Protect your personal information. Never give out your Social Security number or bank account information over the phone.
– It is illegal to offer lottery tickets by phone or mail. If someone is attempting to sell or send you lottery tickets, it is probably a scam.
– Always check the postage of sweepstakes information. Typically these offers claim you are a finalist or one of a few winners. If the envelope says “bulk rate” or “presorted first class,” it’s likely thousands have received the exact same offer.
– To have your name removed from mail marketing lists, write to Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service, PO Box 64, Carmel, NY 10512. Ask that your name be placed on the “do not contact” list.
– For further help, or if you’ve already been cheated by a scam, contact 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, if your problems occurred while living in North Carolina.

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