By JB Clark
TUPELO – District Attorney Trent Kelly issued a statement Friday warning residents of a increasingly common money order scam they have seen in the region.
People may receive a check or money order in the mail with instructions to cash the item at a local check-cashing facility or bank. They are then instructed to send a portion of the money in cash or check back to the sender and keep a smaller portion as commission.
“Once the victim has sent the money they find out from the bank that the check they received isn’t any good,” Kelly said.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson and Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre have seen multiple occurrences of the scam in recent weeks.
“They seem targeted toward elderly individuals,” Aguirre said.
Johnson said the checks are usually addressed to the individual and are oftentimes printed on very convincing checks.
“Some of them even have the holograms,” he said.
The scam almost always involves receiving money from someone the individual has never had contact with before.
“It goes back to what we’ve always heard,” Kelly said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Kelly said they also have recently seen someone posing as an air conditioning company at Tupelo and Saltillo addresses scamming people in a similar way, but by using a new air conditioning unit as bait.
He advised checking out any business before engaging in a money transfer and contacting law enforcement immediately if a check or money order from an unknown individual or company comes in the mail.