The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office has received at least one report of an attempted phone scam.
Captain Paul Barta said the suspect claimed to be employed by the sheriff’s department and told the target that they failed to comply with a grand jury subpoena and would now need to pay money to avoid having an arrest warrant issued.
“Sometimes we will make phone calls when we’re trying to serve court subpoenas or different paperwork. We’ll actually do that, we’ll call. But we’re never going to say, ‘Send us money or a warrant is going to be issued for your arrest,” he explained.
Versions of this particular scam have been around for a while, and while so far there has been just one report Barta said others often follow and, “It seems like you hear about one and then maybe one gets reported and there is some media attention that one receives, and then you start to here from people who maybe got the phone calls.”
Scammers frequently “spoof” or modify their phone number to look like the call was placed from a government building, or at least that it is a local call, and Barta said and the suspect may also attempt to add legitimacy by providing names of local officials or judges. “The fact that, through technology, you can alter the appearance of what come up on a caller ID is pretty troubling. I think a lot of people will look at that caller ID and kind of assume some legitimacy if they see a government entity come up there or, certainly, a local area code.”
Barta said those who receive such calls should never send money via wire transfer or using pre-paid gift cards, and should call 911 to report the call.