By NATHAN GREGORY
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Chadd Garnett is calling for the board of supervisors to consider adopting an ordinance that requires door-to-door salespeople to have a permit confirming the legitimacy of their business.
Garnett told supervisors at their recess meeting Monday that he began receiving daily multiple calls early this month from county residents regarding magazine salesmen who were asking people to buy subscriptions for magazines they claimed would be shipped to military personnel overseas.
He said through contacting the salesmen, he identified the South Carolina-based company and called its owner on Feb. 13. At that time, Garnett said, he reached a verbal agreement with the owner that his employees would not visit any more residents in the county until he could thoroughly review paperwork on the company. Since then, Garnett said he had not received another complaint from a resident.
Garnett said the owner oversaw nine employees which were split among Oktibbeha and Lafayette counties selling the magazines.
“A lot of times they would hit apartment complexes and people would call and say they’re going door-to-door at the apartment complex. Then they say they’re trying to sell magazines. (Some residents) bought a subscription and thought they were buying it for the magazine to be sent overseas for the Marine Corps,” Garnett said. “After they got to thinking about it, they would call us and say, ‘Listen, I did this and I bought it to support the troops, but now that I think about it more, it may be a scam.’”
Garnett said as part of his investigation, he did not want to reveal the name of the company, but he reached the agreement with the owner to prevent any other residents from being scammed if his investigation concluded this business to be fraudulent.
“Most of the time, if you order a magazine, it’s about three months before you get your first one. Whatever the time limit is, if it is a scam and they never show up, then I’ve given this person three months to scam more people in Oktibbeha County. So we’re trying to figure out a way to stop that,” he said.
Garnett is gathering information from surrounding counties that have a permit ordinance. The city of Starkville has such an ordinance.
Board president and District 3 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he would support following suit with the city.
“My position is to try to do more research and see what other counties have,” Trainer said. “We need to get more information so we can get something together that is good for the sheriff’s department to enforce for people who try to take advantage of those who may be vulnerable.”
Garnett said he would present options for the board to consider at a future meeting.
“I really don’t have anything with teeth to stop this,” he said. “I feel like my job to do is to protect the citizens of Oktibbeha County, and I don’t know how I can do it here without some type of ordinance. I think the board will work with it.”