2016-09-08 / News

Fake deputy makes scam calls in area

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

York County Sheriff William King Jr. is warning area residents of a phone scam in which a caller poses as one of his deputies.

“We have received reports from numerous York County residents but suspect there may be more,” King wrote in an email sent to area media outlets Labor Day evening, with a request to “please get this out ASAP.”

According to King, the caller identifies himself as a particular deputy and even gives a badge number (#3892), going on to tell the recipient of the call he or she “missed jury duty,” and must call back after buying a Green Dot money card in order to pay a fine.

“He’s a pretty popular deputy, but he’s not working today,” King said in a subsequent telephone interview, referring to the person name-checked in the call. “And, also, we don’t have badge numbers that go up that high.”

Even so, the scammers appear to have put some effort into their graft, as a voice mail message used for callbacks does mimic the York County Sheriff’s Department telephone system.

“It sounds just like the voice mail that we have, that they must have recorded and are playing it back,” King said. “They really thought through the details on this.”

As part of the scam, the phony deputy explains to the person being called that a judge has issued a summons for “failure to appear” and “contempt of court,” for which he or she will need to appear at York County Superior Court next week. The victim is then told he or she will also need to go to the Sheriff’s Office to “place a surety bond and sign an affidavit that they did not miss jury duty,” said King.

The caller then tells the unsuspecting community member to purchase a “Green Dot” money card and to call back once it has been obtained. The callback number given is (207) 200-0811, extension 31.

The 200 exchange is a Portland cell phone network registered to Bell Atlantic (now Verizon).

“We suspect that when the citizen calls back, the scammer will ask for the 14-digit identification code on the back of the Green Dot money Card,” King said. “Once that code is given, the scammer can deplete the card without even having it in their possession.”

In August, Green Dot money cards also figured into a similar scam targeting Central Maine Power, in which customers were told their electricity bill was overdue and the power would be shut off unless payment was made over the phone by supplying the full pre-paid card number.

King said victims of the Labor Day calls report the scammer “is very pushy and aggressive” and “threatens them with arrest if they do not comply.”

When investigators called the number provided, a person answered, “Sheriff’s Office,” but quickly disconnected when questioned about their identity, King said. Subsequent calls went directly to the fake Sheriff ’s Department voice mail, he said.

“We are asking citizens to please report all such calls immediately to law enforcement and note that no law enforcement agency will (ever) ask a community member to purchase a money card to satisfy any debt,” King said.

The actual non-emergency number for the York County Sheriff’s Department is (207) 324-1113.

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