MANDEVILLE, La. — On Thursday, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith issued a statement about a scam surfacing in the area.
Smith says unknown people are calling residents, pretending to be with a local police agency (including the STPSO). Callers have threatened residents into sending money, saying they will be arrested if not.
Smith adds that scammers have taken their scheme to the next level by using a “spoof” app to change their caller I.D., making it seem the call is actually coming from local authorities.
Callers will request money to be sent via reloadable gift cards, specifically a Green Dot Card.
Smith says that at least one person in the area has been scammed into sending $118,000 through a shipping company to multiple addresses across the nation.
STPSO deputies responded to the victim’s home after they had already sent seven orders of money over a three-week period. The caller had reportedly claimed to be with the Social Security Administration.
Police were able to safely retrieve and return one package containing more than $28,000 to the victim.
“The deputies and detectives of the STPSO will do all they can, along with our federal partners, to solve financial crimes committed against our wonderful citizens. We care about the citizens of this great parish and when they are victimized, we take it very serious. I applaud the fast actions of the deputies who prevent the victim from losing an additional $28,600, but unfortunately the victim had already lost a lot of money. I hope by providing this information to the public I am able to prevent more citizens from falling victim to similar scams in the future.”St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith/August 19, 2021.
While anyone can be a victim, scammers particularly target elderly people.
To help prevent similar scams from happening in the future, Smith reiterates that police agencies will never call anyone threatening to arrest them if they do not send money.
Additionally, if anyone receives a call from an agency and believes it is a scam, they are advised to verify the phone number. This can be done by searching online for a valid phone number for the agency, calling the number to speak to a representative (other than the one who called).
A large number of these scams reportedly originate from other countries, often making it difficult (if not impossible) to solve these crimes. Smith says to be equipped with the right knowledge before falling victim to one of these scams.