ALBANY — One of two scams that were reported in the area lately, targeting mainly the elderly, involved the more old-fashioned method of knocking on doors instead of the internet, according to Dougherty County law enforcement officials.
“(It) involves a group of people traveling around in southwest Georgia with pine straw on them,” Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Craig Dodd said at a news conference. “They ask people if they can spread pine straw. They will come back saying they spread 176 bales of pine straw at $4 a bale, when actually they only spread about 20 bales.”
The victims identified so far live in the Doublegate, Palmyra and Philema areas of the county, but Dodd said officials believe there could be others in other parts of Dougherty, Lee and Terrell counties.
“We have three suspects,” Dodd said. “We were able to talk to one. They’re out of Talbot County.”
Police learned from the suspect they spoke with that the group cashed checks they received in Columbus, and that there are other people from the Talbotton area who have been running the same fraud.
“We talked to one who said it’s going on all over southwest Georgia,” Dodd said. “He told us there were several different groups that do this. They’re all from Talbot County. They apparently do this in Alabama and Georgia.”
No arrests had been made as of Friday morning.
“We know who some of them are,” Dodd said. “We’re still working on (finding other suspects).”
The bottom line is that doing business with people who show up and offer unsolicited services is a risky proposition.
“Ever since the hurricanes and tornadoes and tropical depressions that hit Dougherty County, people should really be wary of (these) people,” Dodd said.
Those who were targeted by the scammers or have information for law enforcement are encouraged to call the sheriff’s office at (229) 431-3259 or (229) 431-3222.
In the other scam, callers posing as employees with the Social Security Administration are contacting residents with fake claims that their personal information had been stolen.
“They talk to you and talk to you, trying to get additional information,” Dodd said. “Social Security does not call you to tell you your Social Security card has been compromised. They send a letter.”