876 scam bilks Halliday resident out of $600

A Halliday man recently was scammed out of $600 from a telephone-based scam.

By BRYCE MARTIN

Herald Editor

Posted May 3, 2013

MANNING — A Halliday man recently was scammed out of $600 from a telephone-based scam. Now the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department is advocating for residents to be vigilant of telephone schemes.

Claiming to be working with UPS Inc., scam artists contacted a local man, explaining that he had won a prize. That prize happened to be larger than normal to be shipped and so he would have to send a total of $1,600.

All he could come up with was $600.

The alleged perpetrators then told the man to go down to Wal-Mart and put the funds on a prepaid debit card. When they called him back, he was to give them the pin number.

He did and soon found himself out of his $600.

“He put $600 on a Green Dot card at Wal-Mart and waited for these people to call him back,” Sgt. Kenny Larocque said. “So he’s out $600.”

Larocque said the call stemmed from an area code based in Jamaica: 876.

In recent years, the 876 area code has become notorious with lottery and sweepstake fraud originating in Jamaica. United States residents have been scammed by these calls announcing lottery winnings or UPS Inc. pickup with instructions to call back a number with an 876 area code.

The area code is not a toll-free number and calls are normally billed at international long distance rates.

The same day he told the Herald of the scam, Larocque was contacted by somebody with the same Jamaican area code.

“I got a phone call on this phone, which is a county phone, from that area code telling me that I won a sweepstakes,” he said.

Being aware of the scam already, Larocque put the call on speakerphone, for nearby witnesses to observe.

Larocque told the unidentified caller that he was calling a law enforcement official’s phone in the state of North Dakota.

The man immediately hung up the phone.

UPS Inc. says a legitimate employee caller will always provide a tracking number, which can be used for verification on the company’s website or by calling them directly. The parcel service stresses it will never ask customers to pay any money up front for items ordered online.

North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation also is aware of the scam, which is believed to be occurring nationwide.

“I believe they’re just getting numbers and calling them,” he said. “I talked to the chief of police in Devil’s Lake and they’re getting the same scam over there.”

The man’s loss of $600 marks the first time Larocque has observed a local person falling victim to such a scam, he said.

Larocque advises residents not to take any unknown calls from area code 876, which is linked to that area code. Residents who do receive a suspicious call can contact their local police department or contact the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, a government agency, at 1-877-382-4357.

“I don’t want to see anyone else get taken for,” he said.

Jamaica recently announced the Law Reform Fraudulent Transactions Special Provisions Act to put a stop to such illicit activities. The bill, which has been passed in the House of Representatives awaits debate in the Senate.

Contact Bryce Martin at bmartin@countrymedia.net.


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