Sheriff's office warns of scam mimicking the office itself

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office is warning of yet another phone scam, and this time, the scam mimics the office itself.

Rockingham County Sheriff's office has received reports of scam calls mimicking the office itself. | Credit: WHSV

People reported a scam to the sheriff's office where a caller says the sheriff's office is calling to tell them they have an outstanding warrant on file and it needs to be paid by a deadline or they'll be arrested. Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said that the payment is always requested through a pre-paid card like a green dot card or iTunes gift card.

This is a classic phone scam that comes in many varieties: people claiming to be tech support, impersonating the IRS, posing as grandchildren, and often pretending to be police.

"Unfortunately, the reason they continue is that people are falling victim to it. That's why we keep talking about it, because people are actually believing the lies that they're being told," said Hutcheson.

He warned to not make a payment first. He said that anyone who receives a phone call that requests payment by pre-paid card and makes threats should be checked out.

"We don't operate that way. Law enforcement of any kind doesn't operate that way. We're not bill collectors and certainly, we are not ones that make threats," said Hutcheson.

He said it is important to confirm with the sheriff's office by calling or stopping in.

"Verify some of that information and see if it's actually true before letting your emotions get in the way and you're going to be paying out money you're never going to get back," said Hutcheson.

Sheriff Hutcheson warned that scammers can use a number on caller ID that mimics the sheriff's office, so he said that people should not call that number back, but look up the sheriff's office number independently, type it in manually, and call to confirm it.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I GET ONE OF THESE CALLS?

The Winchester Police Department advises people to immediately hang up the phone if they receive similar calls. You should know that officers will never make phone calls to tell residents they owe money, and they will never accept money directly. Police will also never solicit donations for fundraisers via telephone, except for law enforcement foundations, which solicit donations from local businesses through mail.

The Winchester Police Department offers the below tips to help avoid falling victim to a telephone scam:

• Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payments.
• Never give out personal or financial information to unsolicited callers, including: account numbers, social security numbers, passwords or other identifying information.
• Never wire money, provide debt or credit card numbers or Green Dot MoneyPak card numbers to someone you do not know.
• If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement or agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
• Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. With spoofing becoming more common, question the number on the caller ID. Be cautious and verify the person on the other end of the phone.
• Don’t be afraid to tell the caller you need time to think about your decision. Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or call your local police department.

You can learn more about scams affecting our area here.