With the holiday season in full swing, scam artists are calling Hopkins County residents and in some cases, showing up at their doors.
Local resident Ruth Macy might have been a victim of a phone scam if she had not repeatedly questioned a man going by the name of Alex Cooper.
“A lady named Pamela Watson called me and said I needed to call Alex Cooper on an important legal matter. She would not give me any more information,” said Macy. “I called Alex Cooper at 202-470-0862. He did not answer the first few times I dialed his number.”
Cooper introduced himself as a representative of the Department of Legal Affairs of the United States Treasury. He hold Macy she owed $2,453 from her 2008 tax return and another $1,226 from a 2010 tax return.
“Mr. Cooper told me there would be a warrant out for my arrest,” said Macy. “I told him that I have never received a letter from the IRS stating I owed that amount of money. He told me everyone says that.”
Cooper became more forceful and said the last notice came out on Nov. 3 and the authorities had been contacted.
“I was pretty sure it was a scam because he sounded so threatening, then he started to talk about cash. He had a very heavy accent and was difficult to understand,” said Macy. “He told me to stay on the phone and immediately go to the bank and retrieve $1,226 to stop the warrant for my arrest being issued.”
Cooper said if they would be disconnected at anytime, the warrant would go into effect. He told Macy once they were at the bank, he would give her bank account information in order to wire the money.
“My daughter Julie is a retired San Diego deputy so I decided to call her, to make sure it was a scam,” said May. “ He started getting so abusive on the phone, when I questioned him. When I told him I would call him back, he threatened to send the sheriff to arrest me immediately.”
May confirmed with her daughter that it was indeed a scam.
Typing the phone 202-470-0862 into Google.com reveals that dozens of people have commented that hey have received the same call from Watson and Cooper and some have lost thousands of dollars to the scam.
In Hopkins County, sheriff’s department Sgt. Brad Cummings has dealt with numerous scams and wants everyone to be aware of phone scams as well as strangers showing up at the door.
“People need to protect themselves. It is Christmas time and people might call saying they are from credit card companies and they need a bank account numbers to debit the fraudulent amount back into your bank account,” said Cummings. “Always be aware and never give any personal information over the phone.”
Cummings said, that if someone is saying that a warrant is out for your arrest, get their phone number and name and check to see if it is the correct information by calling the sheriff’s department directly.
“We live in world of technology and some people use it for evil,” said Cummings.
Cummings said that in addition to phone scams, Hopkins County has also seen a fraudulent asphalt truck drivers’ ring.
“They are telling people that they have left-over asphalt on a job and will pave a driveway for an extremely cheap amount. Then after the job is done, they will tell the home owner that it took a lot more time and resources than they expected,” said Cummings. “The original quote might be $2,000, but by the end of the job it is $8,000.”
Cummings said that once an oral agreement is made, it is up to the asphalt company to abide by the agreement.
“This is a scam, and if anyone is approached about this deal we recommend that they say they are not interested and to call the police department or sheriff’s department and give us the tip,” he explained. “That way, we can approach the company to see if they are a legitimate business.”