After authorities learned that at least three victims lost thousands of dollars in a recent phone scam, police in Summit County, Utah issued a warning to local residents: Beware of phone calls in which the caller is impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Missed Jury Duty Phone Scam
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office announced that scammers are contacting residents and identifying themselves as police officers. The imposters tell the victims that there is a warrant out for their arrest because they missed jury duty.
In order to avoid arrest, the con artist requests payment over the phone via a pre-paid gift card. The cards are untraceable, so once the scammer has both the card and pin number, the victim’s money is gone.
Lieutenant Andrew Wright told reporters that the phone scam is becoming an all-too-common problem. He also warns residents that local law enforcement would never request payment over the phone.
“Government agencies, government agents will not call and demand payments over the phone,” Lt. Wright said. “It’s just not the way government operates… and we don’t ever take gift cards as forms of payment.”
How Much Did the Scammers Make?
According to local ABC4 News in Park City, Utah, the scam ripped off three different residents for about $5,000.
On January 16, a 28-year-old female gave $3,000 worth of Walmart and Best Buy gift cards to a scammer on the phone. The scammer claimed he was from the FBI and had a warrant for her arrest in Texas.
On January 7, scammers conned a 63-year-old woman and a 44-year-old woman for $1,450 and $1,000 respectively. They requested the money in Home Depot gift cards. Both imposters claimed they were deputies from Summit County.
How Will Authorities Stop the Scam?
According to Lt. Wright, “[The imposters have] actually used our phone number, so it makes it look legit. They’ve gotten on our website and seen that there are people they can pose as.”
Because of this, the Summit County Sheriff’s Department is making this phone scam a priority in its investigations.
“It is very infuriating that they are going to the level of using local law enforcement names that our community knows, using our phone number to scam people,” Lt. Wright said.
The sheriff’s office says residents who receive a call from someone claiming to be an officer and requesting payment over the phone should hang up, and call the real Summit County Department directly to report the incident.