Both the Dade County and DeKalb (Ala.) Sheriff’s offices issued warnings this week of scams involving requests for phone payments of criminal fees or bail bonds.
“We have been made aware of another scam that involves a subject calling someone on the phone and telling them they are with the Dade County Sheriff's Office, and then telling them they have a warrant,” Dade County information officer Sgt. Chad Payne (left)wrote in a release. “Then the subject tells the victim that they will be arrested unless they pay money using a prepaid credit card, that can be purchased at many local gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies.”
“The difference in this scam, as opposed to previous scams,” Sgt. Payne went on to say, “is that they are presenting themselves as our deputy that actually serves warrants, and using his full name during the call. Not only are they using his name, but they are cloning the number to the sheriff's office, so it looks like they are actually calling from the sheriff's office.”
Sgt. Payne says it’s nearly impossible for the sheriff’s office to the scams or press charges against whoever is behind it, as usually the scams are from some international organization or individual. But he stresses: “Please tell everyone that you can that we would never contact someone over the phone and request money. If you receive a call from someone presenting themselves as a representative of the sheriff's office, and they request money from you in lieu of arrest, please hang up immediately.”
Sgt. Payne said the sheriff’s office has received numerous calls about the scam, some from victims who had actually paid money out.
“Please share this, and tell everyone you can, especially the elderly,” said Sgt. Payne. “This isn't just happening here, it's happening everywhere.”
As if to illustrate this point, another release from across the Alabama border says that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has had reports of a scam artist “contacting individuals pretending to be a bails bondsman, telling the individuals that they owe them a certain amount of money and that if they don’t pay they will be arrested and sent to jail. “
It also warns of another scam in which the caller informs victims they have won a sweepstakes but must send in money to claim their prize. “They are very persistent on you sending them the money, sometimes to a foreign address,” says DeKalb Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson.