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Sheriff: Telephone scam could target county residents

In a press release issued last week, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley warned citizens about a scam that could possibly target Unicoi County residents.
According to the information shared by Hensley, the scam begins with a telephone call during which the caller tells you that you are the “Publisher’s Clearing House Winner.” The caller then asks you to confirm your information.
The caller would ask you to provide your name, address, and possibly your social security number. Then the caller would instruct you that you need to pay taxes on your prize money or on the item that you have won.
A series of instructions would then be given to you telling you to go and put an amount of money on a Walmart card or ask you for your debit card information so that it can be withdrawn from your account. The operator might tell you that they are on the way to your house.
“They will never come, you will lose the money that you have deposited in the account associated with the card number you have provided,” Hensley said.
“This method has been attempted in Unicoi County, however the scam artist was unsuccessful at collecting any money from the victim.”
The phone numbers that are utilized are not traceable and the offenders are not within the boundaries of the United States making capture and prosecution impossible.
UCSD investigators have conducted several callbacks to the phone number used by the individuals coordinating the scam. According to Hensley, the investigators provided fictitious names and bogus information and each time the operator confirmed that these imaginary people were the winner. After confirming that this fictitious name was the winner the operator persistently tried to get personal information.
“It is the advice of this agency not to give any information to anyone who calls you and informs you that you have won prize money,” Hensley said. “A good rule of thumb, ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’”