Be On The Lookout: Police warn about costly phone scam

You need to Be On The Lookout for a phone scam that could leave you out a lot of money before the holidays.

Carbondale Police say a woman got a call from a man identifying himself as a "detective." He also told the victim he worked for Publisher’s Clearing House and that the victim won a large cash giveaway. In order to cash in on the money, he told the woman she needed to send him a considerable amount of money. 

She followed instructions, sending cashier’s checks via Western Union to locations in Florida and Jamaica. Once the victim was almost out of money, the suspect told the woman to shred all the Western Union documents and pour water on them to make the ink run. The suspect told the woman this would save her from paying taxes on the money.

Carbondale Police want to make sure you don’t become the victim of phone scams like these. They’re passing along the following advice:

1) Avoid conducting business over the telephone. You have no way of verifying the caller’s identity or the legitimacy of their business.

2) Get all information in writing before you decide. This will give you time to confer with trusted family members, friends, or business professionals.   

3) Avoid quick sales pitches. Scammers rely on creating a sense of urgency from their victims. 

4) Never send money to get cash prizes or other gifts. This includes any "registration" or "shipping" fees.

5) Be wary of a caller claiming you have won a prize, especially if you did not enter the contest. You cannot win contests or lotteries you did not enter.

6) Never "verify" account numbers or credit card information over the telephone. This is a trick to get you to reveal this information.

7) Beware of offers to "help" you recover money you have already lost. Scammers have posed as "law enforcement officers" claiming to get your money back for a fee.

8) Never send money over money transfer services (Western Union, Money Gram, etc.) to random people in different cities or countries. 

9) If you feel you have become the victim of a scam, or are unsure about an offer, contact your local police department.

If you received a call like this one, or have any information that may help solve this crime, call the Carbondale Police Department at 618-457-3200, the Carbondale/SIU Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 618-549-COPS (2677) or the Murphysboro/Jackson County anonymous tip line at 618-687-COPS (2677).

To read the full release from Carbondale Police, click here.

If there’s something happening in your area you think others need to Be On The Lookout for, email me at

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