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APD warns about bogus satellite reps

News Staff Writer

Reports have circulated across several Florida Panhandle communities over the past few weeks of bogus satellite service technicians and salespersons who have been “pushy” in their door-to-door effort to get inside the homes of residents.
Apparently, the scam operation has now moved into Lower Alabama.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks said fake telecom representatives are requesting permission to enter homes or apartments to inspect satellite equipment but are most likely “casing” the place in order to determine whether it will later be valuable as a burglary or robbery target.
He said he first became aware of the scam last Saturday, April 13, when he saw a posting on Facebook. A phone call later that morning confirmed his suspicions.
“Early Saturday, I saw on Facebook that a guy came to [a Florida resident’s] house, said he was a satellite dish representative and asked if he could come inside to look at the equipment or whatever.
“Later that day I got a phone call from a person here who said an individual came to his family’s house, claiming to be from a satellite service and asking to come inside.”
Brooks said the resident already had service with the company the “salesman” allegedly represented and told the person he was not coming into his house unannounced like that.
“They didn’t have any markings on their cars, no identification badges, uniforms or anything,” the police chief said. “They wanted to come in and look at [the person’s] satellite equipment. The company sent a written response, saying the individuals are legit, but they’re not legit.”
The same activity has been reported in Walnut Hill, McDavid, Molino and other communities just across the state line from Atmore.
Residents of those areas have reported that one of the individuals was driving a grey or silver four-door sedan, possibly a 2022 Nissan Sentra.
Unfortunately, local police have not yet received much to go on now that the scam artists have apparently infiltrated the community.
“APD doesn’t have a good description yet,” he said. “We were told the one here was a white male of foreign descent, driving a white sedan. Nobody has been able to get a tag number.”
Brooks added that the problem hasn’t gotten big here, yet, but residents should know the possibility exists, especially with elderly people and those who are easily influenced.
“We want people to be aware of this,” he said. “These people don’t usually just show up at your door; somebody usually calls in advance and tells you they’re coming. I hate to say it, but you just can’t trust anybody these days. People are out to scam you, get what they can from you, so be on the lookout.”
If someone suspicious, whether claiming to be a satellite salesman or not, does show up at your door, there’s a simple procedure to follow, he said.
“Call us. It could be a satellite person, an electric company person, a phone company person or whatever. Don’t let them get into your house; let us deal with them.”
To report such a suspicious person, call APD’s non-emergency number (251-368-9141). Brooks also encouraged locals to use social media to keep each other aware of the problem.
“Or, if they’re really concerned, they can call 911,” he said. “We’ll come take care of it.”