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FRANKLIN – Sheriff’s deputies in St. Mary Parish say they’ve received reports of a sweepstakes scam taking advantage of the elderly via a series of official-looking documents sent out through the mail.
Deputies say on Jan. 28 one older victim from the Franklin area said that during a phone call, reportedly from a cash and prize advisement company, an identity thief was able to obtain the victim’s Social Security Number and bank account information.
Investigators say no money was actually stolen from the victim’s account, but the thief was successful in transferring several thousands of dollars from one of the victim’s accounts to another one of his accounts in an attempt to trick the victim into thinking he had received prize money.
Deputies point out that while senior citizens are often the target of scams because of their pensions, savings and social security income, anyone can fall victim to a scam of this sort.
Law enforcement offered the following safety tips:
– Be aware that scammers will attempt to manipulate your feelings. They prey on your emotions, particularly fear.
– Guard your personal information. Do not give out social security numbers, bank account numbers (which can be found on most checks), credit card numbers, and personal identification numbers (PIN’s).
– If someone claims you’ve won a contest that you never entered, then it’s most likely a scam.
– Don’t pay to play. If you have truly won a prize, then it will be free. If a contest is legitimate you will have to pay for shipping or handling or provide credit card or banking information.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam similar to the crime detailed above or know someone else who has been victimized, contact your local law enforcement. If you’re in St. Mary Parish, the sheriff’s office can be reached at (337) 828-1960.