Sheriff: Phone scams asking for money target elderly

Published 10:25 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

Police are warning residents to use extreme caution when dealing with telephone callers as several different scams have been reported in the area recently.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said his department has received complaints on four different telephone scam operations, including one where the caller posed as an officer with the department.
“We had one where someone claimed to be a deputy with the warrants division,” Lunceford said.
According to Lunceford, the caller posed as a deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and told the intended victim that a warrant had been issued for their arrest. The caller went on to say if money was transferred over the phone, the arrest warrant would not be served.
“At no time will an employee of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office ever call you and ask for money,” Lunceford said. “No deputy will ask for money to keep from serving a warrant.”
In a similar incident, Lunceford said, another person reported they received a call from an individual claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. That caller also said a warrant had been issued and demanded payment to prevent the arrest.
“That is not how the IRS operates,” Lunceford said.
The other two scams recently reported to the Sheriff’s Department involve sweepstakes, Lunceford said. In those incidents, the caller told the intended victim he or she had won a prize but had to pay a fee to claim it.
“If you win a prize you will be notified properly and there is never any money needed to win a prize,” Lunceford said. “Also, you have to enter a sweepstakes in order to win it. If you didn’t enter a sweepstakes you are not going to win.”
Investigators have noticed a trend with these recent reported scams, Lunceford said.
“It is usually elderly people, which leads me to believe they have access to a database of some kind,” Lunceford said.
Because these calls originate from different states or even other countries, Lunceford said they are difficult to track and even harder to prosecute. The best defense, he said, is for residents to use caution.
“Don’t ever give any personal information over the phone,” he said. “Don’t send money to someone contacting you by phone.”

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