Scammers are working overtime in the attempt to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The targets receive phone calls from a person claiming to represent the county, and they are asked to make payment via a prepaid debit card.
According to Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant, by midmorning on Thursday he had several reports from citizens claiming to have received such calls. In addition to individuals, he said the scammers have also been targeting local businesses.
“By 10 o’clock, I had received five phone calls from offices in Ardmore,” Bryant said. Fortunately, the sheriff’s department has received no new reports of anyone giving the callers any money.
Bryant said there seems to be two variations of the scam. In one variant, the caller claims to be calling from the Carter County Court Clerk’s office and says someone owes a fine for missing jury duty. In the other, the caller claims to be from the sheriff’s department and says someone owes money for a fine. In both cases the caller says a warrant for arrest will be issued if the fine is not paid immediately.
“From what I understand they are rude, short and to the point,” Bryant said. “There’s an intimidation factor, and they try to put pressure on these people to make the payment.”
Victims of the scam said the caller has the person purchase a prepaid debit card and stays on the phone with them until the card is purchased. The scammer then has them immediately read off the card number.
“They then download the money instantly,” Bryant said. He said the caller then has the victim mail the receipts to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. This makes everything seem more official, however Bryant said nobody from the county would ever require a credit card payment over the phone.
“We do not call anybody. We don’t take payments over the phone. We don’t do anything like that,” Bryant said.
He added that attempts to trace the calls have been unsuccessful, but he urged anyone who receives this type of call to immediately report it. However he said the best policy of all is not to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers.
“If you don’t recognize the phone number that’s calling you, don’t answer it. If it’s important they’ll leave a voice mail. That’s how I would play it,” Bryant said.