Crime

Sheriff's office impersonator had her convinced. She's out $3,000 in phone scam

Seventy-five percent of the more than 3 million complaints to the Federal Trade Commission consumer network involved phone call scams.
Seventy-five percent of the more than 3 million complaints to the Federal Trade Commission consumer network involved phone call scams. AP

The caller ID on her phone identified the call as coming from the Parker County Sheriff's Office. The caller identified himself using the name of a real employee at the office and gave the name of other real employees there, she told authorities. She could hear a police scanner running in the background.

The man provided her with some of her own personal information, including details about a previous speeding ticket. And he said she needed to act immediately to clear an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to appear for jury duty, the woman told the sheriff's department.

But he wasn't really an employee of the Parker County sheriff's office, spokeswoman Danie Huffman says, and he cost the woman $3,000.

"They went to pretty good lengths to scam this lady, and it did sound legitimate to her," Huffman said.

The phone number was spoofed to make it appear that it came from the sheriff's office, Huffman said. The suspect walked the victim through the process of buying $3,000 worth of Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid debit cards and had her read the numbers from the cards over the phone.

"They're not very well traceable," Huffman said of the debit cards, which were purchased at an Albertsons store.

The suspect directed her to make payment with the cards at a "kiosk" at the sheriff's office, Huffman said. When she got to the office and there was no kiosk, she reported what had happened and was informed that she'd been scammed.

"The Parker County sheriff's office does not accept card payments of any kind," Sheriff Larry Fowler said in the news release. "We will never accept payment to clear an arrest warrant. That is a matter for the courts. We do not have a kiosk station, and we will never contact you regarding payments of warrants."

Huffman added that the office never calls on nights, holidays or weekends, and she said scam victims should not be embarrassed to come forward, as they might be entitled to reimbursement from their bank.

She noted that the suspect in this case mispronounced the employee's name, and added that people should be aware that if they've ever been cited, fined or arrested, that information is public and available on the internet.

Anyone receiving a similar call is urged to hang up immediately and report the call to the sheriff's office, 817-594-8845, or your local police department.

In a warning about IRS scam call season, the Midland Police Department in Texas shared a video on Facebook of Officer Stief's 30 minute-phone call with "six different 'IRS' representatives."

A Utah woman who believed she had done her homework on retirement investments later discovered she was part of an elaborate scam that cost her thousands.

Stephen English: 817-390-7330, @sbenglish74
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