Scams Press Release - - Jackson, MS

Scams Press Release

AGO and FBI Join Forces to Alert Consumers on Prevalent Scams
August 25, 2009

Jackson, Miss.- Attorney General Jim Hood and Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Frederick T. Brink of the FBI's Jackson Division are joining together and issuing a consumer alert today regarding the numerous, ever evolving scams which are victimizing citizens of Mississippi.

Prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams, on-line auction scams, shop-at-home or work-at-home scams - they all have one thing in common: They sound too good to be true!   

SAC Brink states, "The FBI receives calls daily  from individuals  who have either been approached by or have fallen victim to a perpetrator of one of these scams. Our agents hear stories of people who have lost thousands and thousands of dollars, often entire college or retirement savings. The FBI, in concert with our law enforcement partners, will vigorously investigate such matters.  Unfortunately, recovery of that money can be very difficult, if not impossible, in most cases."

The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office (AGO) takes several calls each week on just the lottery scam.

"The lottery scam isn't a new scam, but these con-artists are getting more and more creative with how they pitch the scam," said Attorney General Jim Hood.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which reports only complaints about Internet based scams, released its 2008 Annual Report in March of this year. According to the Report, 275,284 complaints were received in 2008, reflecting a dollar loss of $265 million.

To list all of the various scams would be impossible; however, here are some of the recent ones that have come to the attention of law enforcement agencies:

  • (1) Jury service fraud - By phone, you are notified of your selection to serve on a jury and asked to verify your name and social security number. You are then asked for a credit card number and threatened with a fine if you refuse to provide the requested information.     
  • (2) Telemarketing fraud - You must act now or the offer won't be good. You have won a free gift, vacation or prize, but first must pay postage, handling or other charges. You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number to receive your prize. If you hear these or similar lines from a telephone salesperson, just say no, thank you, and hang up the phone.     
  • (3) Nigerian letter or 419 fraud - I'm a citizen of Nigeria and need your help illegally transferring large sums of money out of the country. For your assistance, you will be paid handsomely. Schemes like this one violate Section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label 419 fraud. The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims of this fraud, as they are part of a conspiracy to remove funds illegally from Nigeria. Just say, NO.

The FBI and the AGO offer the following tips to help consumers:  

  • If you have not entered into a lottery or sweepstakes, then you probably have not won one.             
  • If you've won, you don't have to pay to get your prize.  .
  • The government does not involve itself in lotteries or sweepstakes.  . T
  • The government will not ever ask you to help them catch criminals and then ask you to use your money.                              .
  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay any fees for it. Free is free.  .
  • Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It's illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony. Recent scams have appeared locally.  .
  • Know  with whom you are dealing, and never wire money to strangers.  .
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that's not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank's phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check. If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don't pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there's a problem with a wire transaction.  .
  • Resist any pressure to "act now." If the buyer's offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.  .
  • There is a new twist on this old scam. Crooks are using names of government agencies such as the "National Sweepstakes Bureau," which does not exist. Scammers will use technology to make it look like they are calling from Washington D.C. or the consumer's own area. These scammers will then try to get consumers to wire money to some well-known insurance company to "insure" delivery of the "prize."

If you have questions about a solicitation you have received, either by phone, mail or email, there are many good resources you can use.

On the Internet, go to:

You may also call the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney Generals Office at 1-800-281-4418 or contact the FBI at 601-948-5000.

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