The Summit County Sheriff’s Office has been hearing a variety of reports of residents being scammed or harassed over the phone.
Sheriff's Department Spokesman Lt. Andrew Wright said that last week, on January 6th, a condo resident from western Kimball Junction told deputies he was getting several text messages threatening to kill family members, mentioning their specific names and addresses, and demanding that he pay money to the suspects. The victim, visibly frightened, had also received pictures of dismembered and decapitated human bodies. A deputy recognized one of the pictures had been used in a similar extortion incident last year.
The victim has relatives in Puerto Rico, and a deputy recommended he contact authorities there. There was little information on the suspects, except that the texts were coming from an area code in southern California and another in Phoenix.
On January 7th, dispatch received two separate reports of a similar telephone scam, with the suspects using the names of actual officers at Summit County. A 63-year-old woman from Silver Springs said a purported officer phoned her, said she was facing a fine for missing jury duty, and told her to purchase prepaid Home Depot cards to pay it off. The woman bought three cards totaling $1450 and gave the card numbers to the suspect.
In the second case, a 44-year-old woman on Bitner Road was told by two suspects that a warrant was out for her arrest. She also bought two Home Depot cards totaling $1000.
In the two cases, the suspects posed as Sheriff Lts. Alan Siddoway and Nick Wilkinson. When one victim checked her Caller ID, the phone number that came up was an actual number with the Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Wright said that scammers can use apps or other devices to disguise their numbers.
Later, on January 10th, a 19-year-old man in an apartment on Bitner Road was targeted, but the scam was unsuccessful. A caller saying he was with the Social Security Administration claimed the victim had 15 criminal charges against him, and had marijuana in his vehicle.
The victim told the scammer he didn’t even have a car. He mentioned the name of his bank, but didn’t give up any private information. Lt. Wright said that’s just what they want possible victims to do.
Finally, also on the 10th, quick action by a Summit County deputy kept a Pinebrook resident from losing money on a scam.
The resident had posted an ad on KSL to sell tires for $400. A suspect using the name Manual Jose contacted him, and overpaid with a check for $1250. The suspect asked the victim to send $850 to people to pay them for picking up the tires. Subsequently, the resident heard from his bank that Jose’s check was fraudulent.
A deputy checked the number of the party who was supposed to receive the $850. He found a woman in Memphis, Tennesse who said a “friend of a friend” had asked her to help with the transaction. She returned the money.
She also provided a possible supect phone number, also in Memphis. When the deputy called, the man on the line quickly denied any involvement and hung up.