Natchitoches Sheriff reports new telephone scam - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Natchitoches Sheriff reports new telephone scam

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NATCHITOCHES, LA. (KALB News Channel 5) According to reports, a recent phone scam targets Natchitoches residents' pocketbooks.

On October 11, Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. warned the public of a new scam that seems to be circulating Natchitoches Parish. Sheriff Jones Jr. said the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office has received numerous calls recently of a ploy involving federal grant money.

According to several reports, scammers call from an out-of-state telephone number and inform potential targets they were awarded several thousand dollars in federal grants. The callers then inform victims the funds can only be deposited into their private checking accounts or onto a credit card. The intent is to compel people to give out their account and/or credit card information by enticing them with the grant award, which does not exist. Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. warned once the scammers' get your vital information, they can steal your identification to make an endless amount of purchases and potentially ruin your credit. He urged residents who receive suspicious calls promising prizes and money to report them to the Sheriff's Office High Tech Crime Unit at (318) 357-7833 and let law enforcement look into it.

Det. Carey Etheredge with the High Tech Crime Unit said the fraudsters use a technique known as "spoofing" their calls, by which they can change the way their phone number appears on caller ID. He noted many could even disguise their voices using new technology.

"They can make it look like anything they want it to," Etheredge said. "They can change their name. It makes it look like it's from this country when most of them are out of country and it makes it very difficult, especially for local law enforcement, when its clear across the water. Once you give them your information, it's over. If you lose your money on that, it's almost impossible for us to get that money back."

Det. Etheredge said that recent fraudulent calls came from numbers with a Washington, D.C. area code (202), and area codes from Jamaica (876). Det. Victor Kay, also with the High Tech Crime Unit, said he got a call from a number that read "202-210-0054." The caller said he would be awarded $9000.00 in grant money and asked for his account numbers. When he demanded the grant dollars be disbursed through a U.S. Treasury check, the caller hung up. When he tried to call back, his number was blocked.

Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. says that if you feel that something may be a scam contact the High Tech Crime Unit at (318) 357-7833 and talk with Det. Carey Etheredge or Det. Victor Kay. They can also be reached by email at cetheredge@npsheriff.net, vkay@npsheriff.net or on the High Tech Crime Facebook page at www.facebook.com/npso.htcu.

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