Sheriff deputies reported on Jan. 8 that a county resident, north of Fergus Falls near Highway 27, fell victim to a bogus Publishers Clearing House phone call.

The county resident was scammed out of $200 and later contacted the sheriff office after the scammers asked for an additional $1,000.

Sheriff deputies said the phone calls originated in Jamaica.

This scam usually starts with a phone call saying a person has won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. But to collect the prize, the scammers say a person needs to send money to pay for fees and taxes.

Typically, the person is asked to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by giving out the numbers of a gift card.

Sheriff deputies say that scammers ask victims to pay these ways because it’s nearly impossible to trace the money.

Social Security numbers stolen, used illegally

A resident of rural Fergus Falls, on Jan. 8, called sheriff deputies and said numbers from a Social Security card were used illegally.  Four cell phones were reportedly obtained illegally from Sprint in Mobile, Alabama.

Fraud victims can call the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

Deputies also urged the victim to contact the Federal Trade Commission, credit agencies and collections bureaus.

Chimney fire reported

A chimney fire was reported Jan. 8 at Wall Lake Point Circle, east of Fergus Falls and west of Underwood.

Firefighters from Underwood were dispatched to the scene and extinguished the fire.

A chimney fire is the combustion of residue deposits such as soot and creosote on the inner surfaces of chimney tiles, flue liners and stove pipes.

The main issue with creosote is that it is extremely flammable. As the amount of creosote inside the chimney flue increases, so does one’s risk of a chimney fire.

There are ways to break down creosote into ash. 

Liquid, powder and/or sprays can be applied directly to a fire or to wood in a fireplace. After creosote is broken down into ash, the residue can be swept out with the use of a chimney sweep brush.