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Summit County Sheriff’s Department Warns Public About Phone Scam

Summit County Sheriff's Office

A rash of phone scams committed in Summit County has the local sheriff’s department working to educated residents on how to avoid falling victim to these schemes.

Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright says the department is seeing more and more scammers successfully targeting residents via phone calls masquerading as law enforcement officers.

“Recently we had people call using our phone number as the caller ID, posing as a couple of our lieutenants,” Wright said. “Actual employees of the Sheriff's Office, I assume they probably went on our website and got those names. They're telling people that they have a warrant for their arrest, they missed jury duty and that they need to pay a fine in order to avoid arrest.”

Scammers ask their victims to go to a local retail store and purchase gift cards. Wright says that should be a big red flag.

“No one is going to accept payment for a fine using a gift card,” Wright explained. “We don't call and take payment over the phone for any kind of fine. That always goes through the courts, you have to go in person. Sometimes they'll do it over the phone if you call into them. But that should be your first red flag. They're keeping these people on the phone as they go into the retail store getting these gift cards. They're asking them to read off that gift card number and the pin number, and that money is gone immediately.”

Scammers use apps to spoof numbers, making it appear as if calls are coming from local organizations, automated voices also can appear to add legitimacy. Wright says you should question phone calls coming in demanding immediate payment from any organization.

“Don't give them any information,” Wright continued. “Don't give them account numbers, don't give them bank information, don't give them your Social Security number. Hang up, call the official number from the website and verify that that is in fact what is going on. I guarantee you majority of the time that is not the case. It can save you a lot of heartache and it can save you a lot of money”

Catching these scammers can be difficult since many of the calls come from outside the US. The Summit County Sheriff’s Department has been working distributing flyers to display on gift card racks in stores, the county is also educating store employees on how to recognize the signs that someone might be falling victim to one of these scams. The Summit County Sheriff Department’s non-emergency line is 435-615-3601.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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