Hart Co. Issues Warning About Scam Targeting Elderly

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Hart County authorities are warning of another round of prize scams aimed at the elderly.

On Tuesday, a retired couple came to the Hart County Sheriff’s Office to report they received a check for $10,000 in the mail along with a letter saying they had won the money from Publisher’s Clearing House and to call the number listed.

They were told a man would be at their door Saturday at 1p to deliver their prizes.

The couple told Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland they called the phone number in the letter and now are being repeatedly contacted by a man telling them they need to deposit the check.

Cleveland said again, this is a scam and all they want is access to your bank account.

“The basic scam is you’ve won between $10,000 and $100,000, but it’s going to cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to pay the taxes, expenses, and processing fees,” Cleveland said. “But they won’t take that money out of your prize winnings. They want their money before they send you your money. The best thing to do is don’t deposit that check because then they  have all your banking information.”

In this case, the couple did not deposit the check and told Cleveland they first went to their bank where they were immediately advised to take the check and letter to the Sheriff’s office and file a report.

“Don’t send them that money because the legitimate companies, they don’t charge you. They bring you the prize and tell you what you have to do to pay the taxes on your prize. That money on that check may look really good, and it may look like it’s from a legitimate company, but it’s not,” Cleveland said.

The hard part, as Cleveland told this couple, is trying to prosecute the suspects because they typically operate from a location out of the country.

“They operate out of a little hole in the wall,” Cleveland said. “Lately, we’ve been able to track them to the Caribbean. They have a computer and they have nothing else to do all day but work their scam and if they make 100 calls and get one victim, they’ve scored big.”

Now if you think you have been a victim of a prize scam you should contact your local law enforcement agency.