Phone scammers say they are from Md. sheriff’s department, request money

There are ways to discourage telemarketers from ever calling you back. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Imagine getting a phone call from a sheriff’s deputy saying there’s a warrant out for your arrest.

And imagine hearing them tell you the only way out is for you to give out your credit-card information and Social Security number.

Someone’s doing that and a local sheriff’s department wants you to know it’s a scam.

What makes this phone scam unusual is how specific it is, says Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin.

“Some residents have received phone calls over the last week from someone representing themselves as a sheriff’s deputy — usually of a supervisory rank,” Popkin says.

The scammer goes on to tell the intended victim there’s an arrest warrant out for him or her because he or she failed to show up for jury duty.

“They go on to explain that the only way that this person can get out of trouble and get the warrant removed is for them to provide a cash amount of money through a credit card,” Popkin says. Then the caller asks for a Social Security number.

But remember: It’s a scam, says Popkin.

“Deputies will never ask you to place funds for payment on a prepaid card to cancel an arrest warrant.”

To make it even more convincing, the people behind the scheme provide a number for the intended victim to call to verify the information. When victims call that number, they get a recording with a voice that says “Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.”

Popkin says if victims get this call, they should contact the real sheriff’s department at 240-777-7000.

If anyone is targeted, they should save as much information as possible, such as the date and time of the call, the name the caller uses and the call-back number. If possible, save the recorded message.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s office is working to track down the scammers. And Popkin reminds everyone to never, ever give out sensitive financial information over the phone.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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