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ECSO warns of PayPal, Publishers Clearing House scams

POSTED: March 3, 2014 9:39 p.m.

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office continues to warn the public about a scam carried out by people claiming to be part of the ECSO and the court system.

A scammer calls a victim and says a fine needs to be paid for contempt of court. The victim is instructed to set up a PayPal account and send the caller several hundred dollars.

“The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office does not contact anyone by phone directing them to put money on an account to pay a bond or for any other reason,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

Rather, a deputy will hand-deliver a subpoena or any process. Any jury notices will come by mail.

Some people in Effingham County have lost between $500 and $700 over the past couple of weeks, according to Ehsanipoor. It is just the latest scam the ECSO has heard about in the county.

“We hear about different scams around our region every week,” Ehsanipoor said. “This is just one of the many.”

Another recent one has been scammers claiming to be Publishers Clearing House representatives.  The caller claims the recipient has won a first-, second- or third-place prize in the latest PCH sweepstakes drawing.

In order to claim the prize, though, people are instructed to wire money via Western Union to cover taxes and processing fees. The fraudster might also ask the consumer to purchase pre-paid gift cards or Green Dot Moneypak cards to pay for processing fees.

“Anybody who’s going to call and tell you that you need to pay money to collect your prize, it’s going to be a scam,” Ehsanipoor said.

Other consumers have reported receiving checks claiming to be from PCH with a letter saying the check is to help them pay fees on winnings. The check is always returned as counterfeit and the consumer is left owing a debt to their financial institution.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a scam should contact the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office at 754-3449.

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