New phone scam targets the elderly

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The scam begins with an early morning phone call from someone posing as a law enforcement agent. Connie Ladner,  the deputy Harrison County circuit clerk, explained what happened.

"The caller directed the gentleman to go to the store to purchase PayPal cards in the amount of around $850, told the gentleman his wife had failed to report to jury duty and that him paying that money would keep her from possibly going to jail," Ladner said.

The victim, who agreed to talk with me as long as we didn't show his face or identify him, said the caller was very believable.

"He had information about my wife, her age, her name, her address, telephone number, everything that he may have had access into the voter records," he said.

The victim called the scammer back and gave him the access code to the card. He then went to the circuit clerk's office, according to Ladner.

"We went to the DA's office and spoke to an investigator, but the money had already been taken from his card," Ladner explained.

That investigator is David Stepro who has advice for potential scam targets.

"Somebody calls you on the phone and claims they are law enforcement, and they put you under a lot of pressure to go get credit cards immediately. A bell should go off, and you need to stop and call a local law enforcement officer and explain to him what's going on," Stepro said.

While officials in the district attorney's office say they will investigate this case and try and make the victim whole once again, they also admit it's going to be difficult.

"It's hard though to get a suspect and tie them down with enough for prosecution, but we are always willing to prosecute if we get the information," Stepro said.

The victim, a retired military veteran, says losing the money will hurt. He wants one thing to happen now.

"I'd like to take and be able to physically talk to the man face to face for about 15 minutes, and I'd get him out of the scamming business," he said.

This is not the only time this scam has been tried. Court officials say at least one other potential victim was also called about missing jury duty in federal court.

As for any other attempts, that may never be known since some calls may have gone unreported.

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