BLOOMFIELD - Scam artists are at work in Stoddard County.
According to Stoddard County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rick Cook, the office has received numerous complaints that citizens are receiving calls stating homeowners have won $100,000 through a Reader's Digest contest. However, the purported "winner" is instructed to send $2,400 for insurance.
The scam artists instruct the winners to "send the money via Western Union to a family member for some excuse they will give you, and to use the code name 'Caroline,'" Cook explained.
"Then they will tell you that the box containing the $100,000 has crossed the Canadian-U.S. border and it does contain the check," he said. "They also give you some badge numbers and names of border patrol officers that you can verify this with." Cook said the telephone number provided will be answered as border patrol.
The phone numbers were investigated by the sheriff's office. "The people answering were very evasive and would hang up when they found they were speaking with law enforcement," Cook said, adding that some calls are also coming from New York.
"Do not send any money and do not give out credit card numbers or checking account numbers."
In addition to this activity, Cook said several counterfeit $100 bills have turned up in Stoddard County.
He said although the bills appear to be legitimate, "they do not have the right feel." Cook said to always check for the safety strip across the end of the bill and recommends that business owners purchase a special marker from business supply stores to assist in identifying a counterfeit bill of any denomination.
The Stoddard County Sheriff's Department is working with the Secret Service in an effort to locate the perpetrators.