LUMBERTON — Lumberton police are warning residents of a telephone scam in which callers tell them they have won a large prize but there is a price to pay to get it.
“According to some of the research we’ve done it’s been going on on the East Coast for quite some time,” said police Capt. Johnny Coleman. The calls come from an 876 area code, which originates in Jamaica.
According to Coleman, a Lumberton resident on Monday called police saying she had received a call from a person claiming to be with Publisher’s Clearing House, a marketing company known for surprising homeowners with large prizes and equally large checks.
The caller told the woman she had won money and a new car, and instructed her to purchase PayPal cards in order to pay a fee for delivering her prizes. The caller kept the woman on the phone while she bought the cards, gave them the numbers on each card and gave them her address.
“They kept her one the phone for a while telling them they were going to deliver her money and her car,” Coleman said.
She lost about $600.
Friday morning, Linda Oxendine, director of Public Services for Lumberton, received a similar call from a 876 number and was told she had won $250,000 and a GMC Denali.
Coleman said the scammers are calling random numbers. According to the Better Business Bureau, similar calls have also come in from 809, 284 and 649 area codes, either about a cash prize or a relative being involved in some kind of emergency.
“When citizens get phone calls like that they need to just hang up, don’t carry on a phone conversation,” he said.
Coleman said because the calls come from outside of the country, such crimes can be tough to crack, but reporting them can keeps others from falling victim.
“They can report it so we’ll be aware its going on and so we can do public service announcements to let people knows it’s a scam and to avoid it,” he said.