Beware of porcupine egg salesmen

Published 1:27 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jerry Clower once told the story about Newgene Ledbetter — the meanest of the fabled Ledbetter clan — and his trip to the 4-H Round-up in Chicago.

He said Newgene came home with a bunch of $1 bills. His daddy grabbed a brush to spank his son and said, “Newgene, you’ve done robbed a bank.”

“I ain’t done no such, Papa,” Newgene said. “I just took advantage of some ignorant people.”

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“Well, how did you get all that money?” his father asked.

“Well, I took a bag of cockleburs with me up to Chicago, and I sold them at $1 apiece as a porcupine egg.”

Summer is the hot time for scams, especially in rural areas. Scammers can be found going door-to-door or calling on the phone.

People may offer to clean your yard or work on your roof. On the phone, they may offer better insurance deals, long-distance packages or free prizes.

It is sad to say in a community that prides itself on friendliness, but if you don’t know the person offering these things, just say, “No, thanks.”

We will see stories all summer long about people who allowed someone into their homes to clean or do some repair work, only to find their billfolds missing or other items taken. Some scam artists work in teams, having one “helper” do the work while they look around for free money.

Never make deals over the phone. Ask the person if they could contact a local representative that you could speak with face-to-face regarding their offer. If they can’t do business person-to-person, then thank them and hang up.

Insurance companies are becoming notorious for calling elderly people and getting them to inadvertently change their insurance policies to something that costs more, and they don’t find out about the big switch until the bill arrives.

Be smart with any solicitations. Never take anything at face value. We will work with local law enforcement with scam updates in our area, but you can help yourself and others by not making yourself a victim.

Be careful with offers that may seem too good to be true. You may find yourself the proud owner of a porcupine egg.