UNION COUNTY — If you get a phone call from the Union County Sheriff’s Office telling you that unless you send the caller $1,500 you will go to jail don’t do it because it’s a scam.
In a statement released this morning, Union County Sheriff David Taylor announced that scammers are spoofing his office’s phone number.
(Spoofing is where a scammer uses another phone number to hide their actual phone number. It is a common practice and has been used by scammers for nearly 20 years.)
Taylor said that on Friday, July 27 several people reported getting phone calls from the Sheriff’s Office with the caller telling them that they had failed to show up for court. He said the residents were told that in order to stay out of jail they had to go to either Bilo or Dollar General, get a Money Pak card in the amount of 3 times $500 or $1,500 total, come back to the phone, scratch the back of the card, and give the caller the number on the card. The residents were told by the caller that if they did not do this they would be arrested and taken to jail immediately.
None of this is true, Taylor said, and he urged citizens not to do what the caller tells them to do.
“The Sheriff’s Office is not going to call you to tell you that you have failed to show up for court,” Taylor said. “Our practice is to come to your home or workplace to notify you. One reason this is done is to eliminate the common practice that scammers are using to steal money from the citizens.”
Instead of doing what the scammer tells them to do, Taylor said anyone receiving one of these calls should hang up and notify law enforcement. He said they should do this even if the scammer, as is likely, has a great deal of information about them.
“These scammers know a lot about you and may even know your occupation or have information about your family,” Taylor said. “The scammers have many different sources they can obtain information about you such as social media and information that was hacked from other sources. If you should receive a call of this nature, hang up immediately and call 911.”
This is the second time in less than a week that scammers have been trying to con residents over the phone by pretending to be with the Sheriff’s Office.
Last Wednesday, Taylor announced that residents had received phone calls that afternoon from someone calling them self “Raymond” asking for donations for the Sheriff’s Office. He said the caller asks for donations ranging from $35 to $500 and also claims to be having a bike ride to raise money for the Sheriff’s Office.
Taylor said his office is not having a donation drive or a bike ride to raise money for the office or any charitable event. He said that anyone who receives a phone call like those reported that day or any similar kind of call should report it to their local law enforcement agency or 911.
While no one has fallen for the donation scam, Taylor that there has been at least one person who was taken in by the threat of arrest and did as the scammer said and gave them $1,500 over the phone. He said that the victim will not get their money back, as in all likelihood it is now somewhere out of the country.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.