Sheriff’s office warns of phone scams

Published 12:41 pm Friday, December 29, 2023

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace is cautioning residents of phone scams making the rounds in recent weeks and targeting specific members of the population.

“We’re always dealing with scams, but there are some that to me are particularly disturbing,” he said. “We’ve gotten a number of complaints where people are calling, in these cases, calling registered sex offenders and identifying themselves using my lieutenant’s name with something about a new fee that they had to pay to keep their registration current.”

Pace said the scammers use the scare tactic to urge residents to purchase Green Dot prepaid debit cards in order to pay nonexistent fees they say will keep the scamming target’s status current in the sheriff’s office systems.

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“The whole thing is a scam,” Pace said. “No one from law enforcement is ever going to call you and ask you to pay money over the phone and certainly not to go out and purchase these Green Dot cards.”

Pace also warned of an additional phone scam currently claiming people have not shown up for jury duty and are facing monetary fines, or even arrest, for their absence.

“(The scammers) say there is a civil penalty that you pay, or that they will come and arrest you, but if you want to pay the civil penalty and be done with it, then that’ll be the end of it. And they’re clipping these people for like $200 a piece, nothing that real law enforcement would ever do. Nobody in law enforcement will send you to Walgreens to buy a Green Dot card.”

Pace said phone scams like these are particularly difficult for average citizens to recognize because of the local numbers now being used in the proliferation of the schemes.

“A lot of people don’t understand, but do not engage with them at all,” Pace suggested for residents receiving suspect phone calls. “The overwhelming majority of these calls are originating in foreign countries. They may be using a number that looks like a local number, but they are not here. They are calling from either Jamaica or Nigeria. Those are the two biggest source countries. And it’s nationwide. It’s a scam. Period.”

Pace said residents receiving calls they suspect to be scams should hang up immediately and report the calls to the sheriff’s office at (601) 636-1761.