Fayette County residents should be aware of a phone scam intended to extort money from unsuspecting victims, Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb said Tuesday.
Babb said his office has recently received complaints about a scam to extort money by using the fictitious name of a sheriff’s office employee.
Babb said his office last week was made aware of three incidents, all involving victims with the last name “White” that were contacted by a man claiming to be Lt. Darrell Jenkins of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
“The caller would advise the victims that they had failed to reply to a subpoena recently to appear in a Fayette County court and to avert a deputy coming to their home to be arrested on a warrant they could pay a $1,000 fine for each incident,” said Babb. “The caller would then advise the victim to obtain a pre-paid money card called ‘Green Dot’ at a Walmart or Rite-Aid and then take the card to a specific location. The caller would then contact the victim later to see if they had purchased the cards to access the numbers on the back of the Green Dot card.”
In the three known cases last week the victims did not follow through with the caller’s directive and notified the sheriff’s office, Babb said.
“We want the word out that this is a total scam. This is just another modified way criminals are using to rip innocent people off. This summer we had a caller advising people they missed their court date because they were caught by a traffic light camera running a red light and even used a sitting judge’s name to add authenticity,” said Babb. “The threat was the same: pay a fine over the phone or be arrested. These are not legitimate communications from law enforcement. If you have received this or something similar, do not follow the instructions in the warning and do not attempt to pay the fine. Please call your local agency or the sheriff’s office.”
Babb noted that with today’s technology a criminal can even “spoof” a number, as was done in a local incident, and have a local number show up on a targeted individual’s caller ID, adding validity elements to the scam.
“Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number the caller wishes,” Babb explained. “People should not trust the caller ID system anymore because spoofing can put the system into question. I would say the caller in this case is probably not even in our state and maybe not even in our country. A detective has already advised me the number is only registered to Verizon Wireless and not activated. These criminals are faceless and tough to track down. We have issued an alert on the NIXLE alert system as well, which is a great way for the community to learn about events or information affecting their area.”
NIXLE works by sending text messages to your telephone or your personal email. There is no charge to register and receive messages from the sheriff’s office from NIXLE although standard wireless provider charges may apply, said Babb.
Those interested in receiving alerts and information from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office via NIXLE can sign up by visiting www.fayettesheriff.org and clicking on the Community Notification icon.