Authorities warn residents of several scams circulating the area

DECATUR, Ala. - With only a week until Election Day, you're likely receiving phone calls and texts asking for your vote and your money.

"Some folks we know. This was an organization we didn't know," Decatur Fire Chief Anthony Grande said.

Grande was tipped off by several neighbors who told him they've been getting phone calls by a group claiming to raise money for the fire department.

"The phone number she got the call on was a local number, the paperwork was out of state. That set off a red flag and she contacted the Better Business Bureau," Grande said.

Grande says Decatur Fire is taxpayer funded and doesn't solicit. The information on the calls led him to the Firefighters and Emergency Responders Coalition, funded by 'For a Better America', a political action committee not based in Alabama.

"The unfortunate thing is that some folks will give them that card number and $25 or $50 real quick, just to get them off the phone," Grande said.

In Limestone County, two people were recently scammed out of thousands of dollars. One was targeted by a scammer posing as an American soldier on an online dating site.

"He then created a tragedy, such as a fellow soldier killed in combat. And requested she cash a check he send to her," Deputy Stephen Young from the Limestone County Sheriff's Office said.

In the case of the dating scam, Young tells me it's difficult to check. The victim in Limestone County receives the money and figures she's doing a favor a soldier overseas. The bank is required to make the funds available after a few days, but may not know the check is forged for a few weeks, at which point, the victim in Limestone County is on the hook for the money, almost $42,000 worth.

"It's very difficult to track them down and by the time you spend the considerable resources to do so, they're gone," Young said.

Both Young and Grande agree, if you're skeptical, ask for more details and don't be shy about calling the police.

In a separate scam, a Limestone County woman lost $25,000 after someone claimed she won $1 million sweepstakes but claimed she had to pay taxes and fees before collecting.

The sheriff's office says is important for people to understand that anything requiring money up front is a scam. Should you send money, you will likely never recover it because it is very difficult for law enforcement to identify these scammers who are usually from outside the United States.

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