By REGINA BUTLER

Progress Staff Writer

An international scam aimed at bilking thousands of dollars from elderly residents has hit Pontotoc.

Sheriff Leo Mask said his department began investigating the scam when his department was contacted by several victims.

One of the victims was Luna Corder. Her daughter, Patsy Morphis, contacted the sheriff’s department once she read the letter because something seemed fishy to her.

Inside the letter was a check with instructions to deposit the check in her bank.

“The letter said she would receive $55,000, but before she could receive the money she had to send $3,800 to a bank in Canada to pay for the Canadian taxes,” Morphis said.

Morphis called a 1-800 number that was on the letter to inquire why her mother received the letter. “They told me it was because she entered the Publishers Clearing House in 2006 that she was chosen.

“They also said to send the money to the address in the letter and she would get the money later.”

Mask said according to the federal Secret Service, the check was counterfeit. “This is a scam out of Nigeria that is being funneled through Canada. The Secret Service said they have been trying to apprehend these people for some time.”

Mask said others had received similar checks.

“And the key to being suspicious about them is when they tell you to keep it a secret in the letter,” the sheriff explained regarding the scam. “Any legitimate give away like Publisher’s Clearing House is going to have the press and any kind of news coverage they can.”

Mask warned anyone getting a check like these not to cash it at their bank.

“They are not good, and once you cash it, it will come out of your pocket.”

Anyone else receiving such checks is encouraged to immediately call the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Department at 489-3165.

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