KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to be wary of scam callers after an alleged scammer targeted a local woman by pretending to be a deputy.
According to the KCSO, the woman said she received a call from someone claiming to be a sergeant with the KCSO who claimed she had missed jury duty for federal court and owed a $500 fine. The alleged scammer told her bring cash for the fine to their downtown Charleston headquarters at a specific time to meet with the “sergeant” in person, the KCSO says.
Deputies say the woman told them the alleged scammer told her to call them while she was driving and stay on the phone during her commute. The KCSO says the woman told them this made her suspicious, so she traveled to the KCSO office without calling the “sergeant.” She told deputies when she called the alleged scammer and told them she was inside the sheriff’s office, the line was disconnected, and deputies told her the caller was trying to scam her.
The KCSO says in this instance, the call came from a local West Virginia number in “Belleville.” They say the caller also had some personal information including the woman’s address. To add to the charade, the caller even had what the woman said sounded like “police radio-scanner” traffic in the background of the call.
Deputies say they have received multiple other reports of people receiving calls from people claiming to be law enforcement or court officials accusing them of alleged crimes such as missed court dates or jury duty and even unpaid back taxes. According to the KCSO, these scammers will threaten the victim by saying they will be arrested if they do not pay a fine or penalty.
According to deputies, one way to know someone is trying to scam you is that they will tell you to pay the alleged “fines” by purchasing gift cards and giving the scammer the gift card number to transfer the funds to them.
The KCSO says some common “red flags” to watch out for and help identify scam calls include:
- Receiving a text message from an unknown number that claims you owe something or are a winner
- Do not answer calls that say “UNKNOWN” or calls from suspicious numbers
- The caller requests you only call them back on the number they provided and is persistent about keeping in contact while you complete the transaction.
- The caller warns you not to tell anyone about the conversation.
- the caller warns you not to disclose what the transaction is for to your bank or other financial institution.
- “Sweetheart scams” in which the scammer convinces their intended victim they are in love and makes excuses involving financial problems and asks the victim for money.
- Do not agree to meet with people for money exchanges, even at a public place.
If you think you or someone you know may be a victim of one of these scams, contact your local sheriff’s office.