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OPSO warns of phone scam in the area

Phone scam graphic.
Phone scam graphic.(WLUC)
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - Authorities say several residents have received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as Deputy Timothy Watts or Deputy Eda Shepard from the “Owacheetah” (mispronounced Ouachita) Parish Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, the scammers tell victims that they owe fine money and that they must buy a cash card to pay for the fine. The sheriff’s office says the scammers have also spoofed their main phone number, 318-329-1200 so that it appears on your caller ID to make it look like a real call.

OPSO says this is a common scam and that they do not solicit fine payments in this manner. They say the scam and others like it operate in the United States 24/7. The stories change, but the intent is the same. The caller may say they are with the Social Security Administration, U.S. Marshal Service, IRS, local law enforcement agencies, utility companies, and many other agencies or businesses.

Authorities say no legitimate company or agency will ask you to pay immediately by cash card or with credit card information.

If you receive a call you think is a scam, contact the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission.

The following is from the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Several Ouachita Parish residents have received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as Deputy Timothy Watts or Deputy Edna Shepard from the “Owacheetah” (mispronounced Ouachita) Parish Sheriff’s Office. Caller went on to state the person receiving the call owed fine money and to avoid arrest, they must purchase a Green Dot or other type cash card to immediately pay the fine. The scammers have also spoofed our main number, 318-329-1200 so that it appears on your caller ID to make it look like an official call.

This is a common SCAM. The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office does not solicit fine payments in this manner.

This SCAM and others similar operate in our country 24/7. The stories change, but intent is the same. The caller may say they are with the Social Security Administration, U. S. Marshal Service, IRS, local law enforcement agencies, utility companies and a host of other agencies or businesses. SCAMS like this are estimated to be responsible for a $17.9 billion dollar loss to consumers in 2020 alone.

BUT, there is a common denominator in each one, regardless of the storyline, that should tip you that it is a SCAM. In all cases, the caller will try to convince you that you must pay money or a fine immediately, and that it usually must be done with a Green Dot or other type cash card. They will instruct you to buy the card, often telling you where to go get it, then call them with the transaction number on the card. They, in turn, get the cash immediately. In some cases, they may instead ask for credit card information instead of the cash card.

No legitimate company or agency will ask you to pay immediately by cash card or with credit card information. Do not follow the instructions given nor ever give out your personal card information.

If you receive a call you suspect is a SCAM, contact the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

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