Don’t be fooled by imposters

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As long as we have used money as a means of exchange there have been unscrupulous types out there looking to fleece and rob people. Once upon a time, it was snake-oil salesmen promising that their concocted elixirs would bring eternal youth and sexual potency, or preachers of dubious repute offering healing powers for a price.


In the 21st century, the scams have become more sophisticated. A few weeks ago, one letter writer to the Observer-Reporter recounted how she had received a phone call from someone saying that she was a winner in the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, but she needed to send a check first before the booty could be sent her way. Turns out, it came not from some glassy office tower but from a sports bar in Jamaica. Fortunately, she didn’t send a cent.


However, one elderly resident in Hickory wasn’t so lucky last week. An ingenious crook posing as a worker in the countywide property reassessment coaxed the woman out of her house to discuss “boundary issues” while an associate went in and grabbed more than $600 in coins, jewelry and cash.


This incident has led Tyler Technologies, which is carrying out the reassessment, to reiterate just who its employees are, and has warned residents to be on the lookout for impostors. Tyler employees are sporting chartreuse vests with company logos affixed to them, and they carry an identification card issued by the Washington County sheriff’s office. The con artists in Hickory were using walkie-talkies, and Tyler officials do not use those, they have emphasized.


When in doubt, residents can call 724-228-5019 to get verification that someone is, indeed, an employee of Tyler Technologies.


The reassessment has been a source of hand-wringing for some county residents. There’s no need for the anxiety to be multiplied by deceitful criminals preying on the vulnerable or too-trusting among us.


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