Sheriff warns of phone scams targeting residents
Claim there is a warrant for arrest in an effort to get money
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scammers are still working to separate people from their money.
Lawrence County Jeff Lawless said that his office has gotten complaints about people calling and claiming they are from the IRS, or that there is a hold up on their stimulus check.
“They claim that if they don’t pay what they ‘owe,’ they are going to put out a warrant for their arrest or they are going to confiscate your stimulus money,” he said, adding that the victim is then told it will all be cleared up if they send money from a pre-paid card from a store.
Lawless said that is not the way that it works, that the government does not call. Instead, they generally send things like that in writing.
Another variation is that the person supposedly has a warrant for their arrest, that, again, can be cleared up with a prepaid card, unless they want to go to jail. Scammers prefer the prepaid cards because it is nearly impossible for the money to be recovered.
“Don’t let these people scare you into thinking there is a warrant out for you,” Lawless said. “It does not work that way.”
Part of the sheriff’s office’s duties is to deliver warrants from court system.
“If we have a warrant for you, we are going to come get you,” Lawless said. “We are not going to ask for your money. And any money you owe, that is between you and the court.”
Lawless says that are still some scammers who are trying to get banking account numbers or Social Security numbers. He said to never ever give that information out over the phone.
“Don’t give out that kind of information,” Lawless said, adding that he has had a number of scam victims that have lost thousands of dollars after they gave out that information.”
Lawless said that if you do get a call that you suspect is a scammer, just hang up.
“Don’t entertain them any longer than you have to,” he said. “Just hang up. If you are able to capture a phone number, let us know what it is.”
The sheriff’s office sends the phone number of scammers to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office which tries to keep tabs on these types of scams.
Many times, the phone numbers seem like it is from a legitimate number but is actually been faked to look like authentic, a move that is called spoofing.
Lawless said that in some cases, the scammer does enough research to localize the scam and claims to be from the local sheriff’s office.
For the latest in scams going around the state, Ohio Attorney General David Yost has a web page that lists various scams, from the latest tech scam to the older “grandchild in need of immediate cash” scam.
Go to www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/scams to see the list.
If you think you are the victim of a scam, report it to your local police agency, bank or credit card company. You can report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by going to their website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam.