Scammers are posing as Elmore County Sheriff’s Office deputies to extort money from people with a threat there is a warrant for their arrest, according to Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin.
“I heard from a sex offender (living in Elmore County),” Franklin said. “Somebody called him and said he was supposed to submit to DNA testing, but because he hadn’t he was fined so many dollars.”
Franklin said the caller advised the man he needed to pay the fine via a Green Dot card or he would be taken to county jail.
“As unbelievable as that sounds, some people fall for that,” Franklin said.
The county officer assigned to sex offenders confirmed to Franklin several other sex offenders in the county have received the same call.
“It’s very tough to find these people who are making the calls,” Franklin said. “People are really falling prey to this sex offender call.”
Green Dot is a prepaid debit card sold at a variety of retailers. The corporation’s website clearly states it will “attempt to recover funds from fraudulent activity, but if the MoneyPak funds have already been transferred, (Green Dot) will not be able to refund that money to you.”
“We went around to the Dollar Generals to tell them to stop selling the Green Dot cards,” Franklin said. “We told the people that these people are being scammed. That helped some.”
While Franklin’s office does not keep a running count of the number of calls and total amount of money scammed via telephone, he did indicate most thefts are for $200 to $300.
“It’s always a one-time call for $200 to $300,” Franklin said. “The majority are low dollar, but several have been for more money.”
These calls are not limited to sex offenders. Franklin indicated anyone could be called by a scammer stating you missed jury duty.
“Usually it’s older people, sometimes middle aged people,” he said. “It’s never young people. Because you missed jury duty, you’ve been fined $272. It’s always some very odd, unique amount. It’s not like $200 or $300. They say we have somebody in route to pick you up. If you want to forgo that you can pay over the phone.”
According to a report by Market Watch, $9.5 billion was lost due to phone scams in 2017.
Franklin said law enforcement at the local or federal are not having much luck solving this type of crime.
“If these people call 20 people over the course of an hour and one hits, they’ve made $200 to $300 an hour,” Franklin said. “If someone asks for your personal data or financial data just hang the phone up.”