Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum is alerting church congregations to be wary of anyone showing up at church sharing a sob story about the death of a family member and appealing for money to get to the out-of-state destination to claim the body.
On March 20, a woman interrupted the 11 a.m. service at Holly Springs Methodist Church to share that her daughter, a college student in Ohio, had been killed in an automobile accident and she needed money for gas to get there. She claimed she only had $40.
The church was scammed of more than $400 when the sympathetic congregation responded when the offering plate was sent around.
Suspicious about the story, 911 was contacted, but the woman and a man who stayed in the vehicle were gone before deputies could arrive. A description of the white Ford Lariat truck, which was beat up and scratched up, was provided along with a tag number.
After the incident was posted on Facebook, it was learned that a woman matching the same description had attempted to perpetrate the same scam at Talmo Baptist Church on March 6 and at Pendergrass Baptist Church on March 13.
“People, please don’t give money to strangers who walk in your church and tell you someone was killed,” posted Sheriff Mangum on Facebook. “Call 911 and we will come and check it out. This is another way to scam good innocent people. If you feel led to give money, ask for ID, tell them you will call 911 and the Sheriff’s Office will assist them if their loved one has been killed. We can verify the information immediately.”
She notes that if the request is authentic, the person shouldn’t mind.