More scams targeting South Georgia unemployed

As posted on September 13, 2010 on

By Jim Wallace

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Scam artists are busy.  Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators say they're getting more reports of scam letters and e-mails.

Many of them target people in financial trouble, the elderly, or the disabled.

Investigators say as the tough economy continues to make people desperate for money, scammers are taking advantage, targeting South Georgians who might fall for the con letters or e-mails in their time of trouble. One Albany man wants to warn other South Georgians about the scam letter he received this weekend.

Almon Moore has been out of work for almost two years, debt is a problem.   So when he received a check for $3,850 in the mail Saturday he admits he got excited.

 Moore said "I had just finished praying, asking God to help me get the money I need so I can fix my vehicle."

A letter with the check said he had just won a lottery drawing worth $50, 000. Moore needed the money, but he quickly recognized this was a scam.

Moore said "then I got kind of aggravated and a little bit upset. Because here I am needing money and somebody playing with me. I just didn't think it was a very nice thing to do."

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators look through some of the dozens of scam letters that have been turned into their office recently, as they have seen a marked increase in phony lottery winning letters.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Lt. Anita Allen said "Really it's a big scam targeting a lot of elderly people, people on disability, those who have lost their jobs. And it's just a scam so they can get into their accounts and try to steal what they may have."

Moore's letter told him to deposit his $3850 check, and then Western Union wire $2900 to a Canadian address to pay taxes, and then they would get the rest of the $50,000. The check is phony, and once you have wired the cash it's gone.

Allen said "Anytime someone sends you anything like that saying that you have won the lottery, you shouldn't have to pay for it. It should be free."

Moore spotted the scam, and didn't cash the check. But he worries that with so many people unemployed and struggling, many might become victims.

Moore said "You hear so many stories where people get taken. It's hard enough to make it as it is in this economy, with somebody else scamming you."

He warns other South Georgians that falling for such a scam will only make their financial woes even worse, and to be very careful with financial windfalls that just appear in the mailbox or e-mail.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Investigators say if you get a check in the mail and you doubt its authenticity, bring it to them and let an Investigator check it out. Call them at 431-2166.

Most of these scam operations are run from other countries, many in Canada.

For more information or to report scams, call the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs at 800-869-1123.

There's also a special Anti-Fraud number to report scams coming from Canada.  That hotline is 888-495-8501.

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