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     The Sheriff’s Office has taken three complaint reports of telephone scams in the area involving fraudulent claims that the recipient of the call has won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes. 

     In each incident, the caller claims the person has won $250,000 and is asked to go to the local Wal-Mart to either meet another person and pay him a processing fee ranging from $375 to $550 in cash, or to conduct some kind of cash transaction or transfer through the store.

     These calls are coming from area code 876, which is a foreign area code assigned to Jamaica, and the caller has a muffled voice that is difficult to understand.

     As we have advised before, the Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages the public to be ever vigilant when confronted with one of these scams.  Persons should not confirm or release any personal information whatsoever, including verifying name, address, or any other identifying information.  Scammers can be very persistent and call back numerous times trying to convince the potential victim that the call is legitimate.  In addition, persons should not try to return a call to the 876 area code, because doing so may result in significant additional charges to their telephone bill.

     Citizens should be warned that if they participate in delivering or sending cash funds to an overseas person or account with the expectation of receiving something in return, there will likely be no means available for them to later recover their loss from such scams.

/s/ John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff