In a world of ever-changing schemes, scammers are now using names of real law enforcement officers, as well as phone numbers spoofed to appear to originate from local agencies, to con people out of money.
Recently, victims have reported getting calls from people claiming to be Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies, using the deputies’ real names, said Bulloch County sheriff’s Capt. Todd Hutchens.
Recent calls have used the actual names of at least two deputies.
The fake callers are often intimidating, threatening jail or penalties if a victim doesn’t comply with demands. They will claim a victim has an unpaid ticket, failed to report for jury duty or some other untrue infraction, he said.
Then, when they have their victim in fear of being jailed, they demand payment via Green Dot cards, Google Play cards or some other sort of prepaid debit card, Hutchens said.
In spite of warnings in the media and on social media, people are still falling victim to such scams, he said.
The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page has its own warning, which reads: “Should you receive a call from someone claiming to be a deputy, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, chief deputy, or the sheriff himself, advising you that you have warrants for your arrest for not appearing in court and that you have a fine to pay or be arrested, be advised, it is a scam.”
No law enforcement agency is going to demand you pay fines via prepaid debit cards, and deputies will not call you if you are wanted for any crime, Hutchens said.
The Facebook warning continues: “It is not the modus operandi of the Sheriff's Office to call anyone on the phone for a payment of any kind. If we are given a warrant from the courts for your ‘failure to appear,’ we will come see you in person and even then we will not accept any form of payment.”
Even if the phone number on your caller ID shows the number of a local law enforcement agency, the call could actually be coming from another number, even one from overseas.
“The caller ID may even show that the incoming call is from the Sheriff's Office because these people trying to take your money are using an app to change their number to make it look like the call is coming from the Sheriff's Office,” the Facebook post reads. “We know not everyone has Facebook, (and) we have already been on the news and in the paper warning citizens of these type of scams so please share this as you see fit and help us spread the word, especially among the elderly.”
Hutchens asked that anyone with questions or who receives such a call contact him at (912) 764-1781.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.