SIKESTON - This is the time of year where scam artists like to try to due you out of your money, warned Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden.
Some scams that have fooled residents in the past are the pigeon drop and driveway repair and power washing scams. These scams are all common ploys used by scam artists, who typically target elderly and handicapped people who may actually need the type of work done, Juden said.
"Usually these crooks offer to do services quite a bit cheaper than reputable companies. However, this is usually just to get them into the victim's home or access checking accounts, credit cards or some type of identity information that they can use to steal from the victims," said Juden
"These people are usually fast talkers that will come down in price if their initial approach fails, or offer to do additional things as part of the price agreed upon when offering these services. Most of the time, they are spraying a coating of paint on your driveway that looks pretty, but actually does nothing to protect or fix the problem that you may be experiencing," he added.
While most of these scams occur at the victims' homes, the pigeon drop usually occurs on crowded business/shopping parking lots. "These parking lots are a pigeon droppers paradise," said Juden.
He explained the parking lots used by scam artists to contacts customers leaving. The scam artist will usually say that they have found a large sum of money and want to share it with the person. This is intended to get the person to put up their own "good faith" money, and the scammers then steal their victim's money by switching the package supposedly containing the found money, Juden said.
A new scam officers are encountering is where scam artists are portraying themselves as power company workers who need to come in the potential victim's home and check the electrical circuits. Once inside, one 'worker' will keep the victim busy, while the other steals items from the house.
"As you may recall, Sikeston experienced several of these scams two years ago from the group known as the Irish Travelers. After DPS Officials issued an alert on the subjects, two were later apprehended in St. Charles.
"Even though a couple of scam artists get caught, there are that many more ready to take their place, and have already been trained by the ones that are already going to jail," Juden said.
Juden also warned residents: "Typically these scam artists will come through here at the start of the summer and at the end of the summer. These groups usually make a circuit from the south to the north in the summer, then go back to the south in the winter. Sikeston just happens to be along their route depending on where they might be heading at that particular time."
The chief urged resident to use common sense and avoid letting greed influence decisions then scams will not succeed.
Citizens should contact DPS with any concerns, questions or suspicious incidents to report at 471-4711. If someone contacts Sikeston residents about electric service, they can also call the Board of Municipal Utilities at 471-3328, to determine if it is a legitimate contract.