This article was originally published on WUFT.org. Picture not my own.
A new phone scam in Alachua County involves the impersonation of a deputy sheriff asking residents for money.
The sheriff’s office has received reports of residents receiving phone calls by someone claiming to arrest or sue them if they do not provide money, wrote Art Forgey, a Public Information Officer for ACSO. About half a dozen phone calls have been reported in the last week.
Some of the callers claim to be from the IRS, but others claim to be Deputy Sheriff Greg Martin from ACSO. The callers threatens to arrest the recipient of the call if they do not pay a fine or warrant, Forgey said.
Deputy Greg Martin is not a real employee for ACSO, Forgey said. Scammers in the past have used the names of real officers that were most likely found through social media or public records.
“In the past, people have fallen prey to their scam,” Forgey wrote.
No reports have been made about people losing any money through these calls, so they have not investigated the case further. In most cases, the calls are made through internet based phone technology and are hard to track.
These scammers, along with many others, ask for a prepaid Green Dot Debit Card so that they can quickly and easily access the money, Forgey said.
“They can take care of the transaction right over the phone,” he said.
Alachua County is not the only county to have experienced a scam based on the impersonation of law enforcement. In July, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook alerting citizens to a similar scam.
The calls in Putnam County also involved the person identifying themselves as a detective, or employee for the sheriff’s office and claiming that they had an arrest warrant for whoever answered the phone, according to the post.
About 30 people reported receiving the call, though none reported losing any money to it, said Joe Wells, Public Information Officer for PCSO.
The calls were placed through a spoofing app that allows the caller to change the caller ID to make it appear that they are calling from the sheriff’s office phone number, Wells said.
“It scares people so badly that they just want to take care of it, without really asking any questions,” Wells said.
Fortunately, many of the people of Putnam County did question it and often ended up calling the sheriff’s office to investigate further, Wells said.
Scams involving law enforcement or the IRS are common in Putnam County, though the sheriff’s office does their best to circulate posts on social media to keep the public up to date, Wells said.
The law enforcement would not arrest over the phone and the IRS does not threaten suits over the phone, Forgey and Wells said. They both advise residents to hang up the phone if a caller does either of these things.