St. Martin residents targeted in phone and computer scams

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Investigators with the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office have received several complaints from area residents in reference to phone scams.

Scam artists use cell phones, landlines, text messages and emails to gain access to unsuspecting individuals.

These scammers are usually in another country and they make their tracks untraceable.

Major Ginny Higgins, Public Information Officer with the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office, said, “People panic. They panic and they get scared and so they want to do anything they can, and it’s just kind of like common sense gets tossed out because they’re so afraid. They’re afraid to tell anybody.”

Scams targeting St. Martin Parish residents range from computer scams, cable scams, IRS or social security scams, or electric company scams.

What makes them all common is scammers ask for payment in gift cards.

“He instructed her that he could help her that she had multiple viruses on there and in order to so they would need to go and send X amount go get some gift cards take pictures of the front and back and then notify them when they’ve done so,” added Major Higgins.

One resident reached out to the sheriff’s office alleging an individual called claiming to be from a computer company.

They received notification that someone was attempting to hack into the victim’s computer. In order to stop the hacker, the caller then instructed the victim to enter a number into the computer’s control panel.

Unknowingly, the victim gave access of their computer to the scam artist and the computer was locked.

“The problem with this is to try to track this is very hard because they’re either from Internet cafes overseas,” said Major Higgins. “They may mimic your own phone number calling you. They may mimic a local number.”

When the sheriff’s office receives a scam that happened to a resident, it’s assigned to a detective to investigate it.

Here are tips you can use to protect yourself from these scams:

  • Don’t ever provide any financial information to anyone who contacts you by phone.
  • Make sure to never purchase gift cards to send to anyone who solicits you over the phone.
  • Don’t let local numbers to fool you. Officials say robo-type calls often, but not always, show up on the caller ID as the number they are calling from.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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