Sullivan County

Scammers swindling Sullivan County residents

Scammers swindling Sullivan County residents

BLUFF CITY, Tenn. - Scammers are calling people in Sullivan County asking them for hundreds of dollars.

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office told us four people complained of this in the past eight days.

We talked to two neighbors in Bluff City who told us what tipped them off that they were being scammed.

Marlene Bowling is still shocked after a man called her at home telling her she won half a million dollars, then demanded taxes for it.

"I said it doesn't sound right because if I won the money why didn't they just bring it to me" said Bowling.

The caller told Bowling to go to Walmart and get a Green Dot card, a kind of prepaid debit card.

He didn't call her just once either. Bowling told us the scammer called her at least 20 times.

The first time he called, she said he told her to put $1,000 on the Green Dot card. On Thursday, he had dropped it down to $500.

"I said that wouldn't pay the taxes on half a million dollars," she said.

The man insisted, even offering to come to her house and drive her to the store himself.    

"I got scared and he said I know your address and I know your Social Security number," Bowling told us. 

Bowling's neighbor, Jeff Richards, got six calls on his cell phone.

His caller was from the same area code as Bowling's scammer. That area code is 876.

Richards was told he won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes.

"What they wanted was my checking account number and my tracking number on my bank account to put some of the money in," said Richards.

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office told us they're aware of both of these scams.

Sheriff's Office spokesperson Leslie Earhart told News 5 that Bowling and Richards paid attention to the right signs.

"If someone calls you and tells you you've won money and you have to pay taxes to retrieve that property or whatever prize it might be, that's a red flag," she said.

Earhart said other signs you're being scammed are if you get threats saying you'll be arrested if you don't pay by a certain date, or if you're asked for money or personal information over the phone.

It's also important to be cautious giving money around the holidays, she said.

"People will pretend to be with an organization like the Salvation Army and they will pull on the heartstrings of residents in an effort to get them to donate," said Earhart.

Jeff Richard told us it's very simple,"if it sounds too good to be true it's too good to be true."

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