Police warn of possible phone scam after incidents in Paris, Greenville

From Staff Reports

August 19, 2008 - Police investigators are forewarning local residents to be wary of anyone calling asking for personal or bank information over the phone.

So far, no one in Sulphur Springs or Hopkins County is known to have been the target of the latest scam, but officials say it is only a matter of time as the scam hit first Greenville, then Paris.

The way the scam is being perpetrated is through calls to individual homes. The caller claims to represent a bank, sometimes a local bank, sometimes another bank. They claim the person's account has been closed or is about to be closed. The caller then requests personal information such as the resident's account number, PIN codes and debit card numbers.

"We're hoping to get word out ahead of the game this time," Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Investigator Rusty Stillwagoner said. "Unfortunately, there are always a few that fall for that. They've been doing this for three weeks in Greenville and a couple of weeks in Paris."

Residents are cautioned not to give out personal information over the phone. That means don't give out bank account information, debit card numbers, personal identification numbers, date of birth and Social Security numbers, or any other account or personal identification number or information over the phone.

"The money is going oversees, so there's really nothing law enforcement or the federal authorities can do. This is part of those Nigerian scams -- all the money is withdrawn from ATMs oversees," Stillwagoner said. "So we're notifying the media to help us with the public announcement. We hope to cut them off before it starts here. Hopefully, this will be enough ahead of time that people will take heed."

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