The Biloxi Police Department is warning residents about recent scams that involve missed jury duty, overpayment for services performed or winning lottery tickets.
The department is also warning residents that a number of recently solved automobile and home burglaries were crimes of opportunity, where home or car doors or windows were left unlocked, with valuables in plain sight.
Some of the scams, which have been reported along the Coast, have targeted the elderly.
The most recent involved a person claiming to be a law enforcement officer contacting victims to warn them they have missed jury duty and face arrest unless they phone in a number for a prepaid money card.
Other scams involve victims being asked to cash worthless checks presented by suspects through mail or email, and send money to a third party after keeping some money for themselves.
A lottery scam involves victims being asked to send thousands of dollars in "tax payments" in order to receive their fictitious lottery winnings.
In another case, scammers hire individuals to perform a job, then overpay the person by worthless check, asking them to forward a portion of the funds to a third party.
Law enforcement officials have simple advice when encountering these types of deals: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers typically require you to do something that involves you paying someone else money.
Call your local Police Department or Sheriff's Office and report the incident. Some of these scams are found to be local while others are national and even international, making prosecution difficult or impossible, and funds unrecoverable.
Awareness is also a factor in crimes. Biloxi Police officers report that a factor in most reported burglaries is that a door or multiple doors to vehicles have been left unlocked, with valuables left in the vehicle and sometimes in plain sight.
Said Police Lt. Christopher DeBeck: "No matter where you park your vehicle we ask that you do not leave valuables in the vehicle, or at least not in plain sight, and we ask that you lock your doors. A majority of time this deters would be thieves.
"Don't fall victim to any of the scams or would-be thieves. Question it if it sounds like a great deal out of nowhere. And please lock your doors. Don't rely on technology when it comes to valuables. Your keyless entry can fail you. Manually check the door to ensure it is locked."
News and notes
BPD phones: The Biloxi Police Department's non-emergency dispatch number, which had been knocked out by construction work on Popp's Ferry Road Tuesday afternoon, was restored to full service Tuesday night at 10:45. During the incident, the city's 911 emergency line was never impacted, but calls to 228-392-0641 had to be redirected for several hours.
Traffic update: City workers are continuing to edge the medians of U.S. 90, near the Biloxi Lighthouse today, and construction workers are continuing their three-week project to create new medians and turning bays on U.S. 90 for the Beau Rivage employee parking garage at MGM Park. To see the huge volume of road and infrastructure work now underway throughout the city, click here.
Released by Vincent Creel, Public Affairs Manager, City of Biloxi