CAMDEN, N.J., (CBS) — Authorities in Camden County are alerted the public to a scam in which callers pose as sheriff’s officers to extort money from victims with the threat of arrest.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk and Camden County Sheriff Charles Billingham say this type of scam is being used elsewhere in the country, and at least two cases have been reported in Camden County in the past month.
The first case was reported in September, and the second on Tuesday, October 8. In both cases, authorities say the caller used “ID spoofing” software that disguises the caller’s real phone number with another number, in these cases the phone number for the Camden County Sheriff’s Department. To the caller ID of the person receiving the call, authorities say it appeared the call was coming from the Camden County Sheriff’s Department. The caller also used the name of a legitimate high ranking Sheriff’s officer.
According to authorities, in both instances the caller told the two Camden County residents they had outstanding warrants and if they did not pay for fines they would be arrested. Neither victim actually owed any money for fines or violations. One victim offered to pay with a credit card, and the caller insisted a money order or debit card be used instead. Authorities say the caller posing as the Sheriff’s officer told the targets to call him back at a Florida number, (904) 352-8730. According to authorities, the Florida number is identical to one used in a similar scam reported in Pope County, Florida where a caller also posed as a sheriff’s officer and attempted to extort money through threats of arrest.
Authorities say both Camden County targets were suspicious and called back the number that showed up on their caller IDs, which connected them with the real Camden County Sheriff’s Department. Neither person paid the caller any money.
The Sheriff’s Department and the Prosecutor’s Office say they are aware of this scam, but tracking people engaging in this activity is difficult. Authorities advise the public to be aware that they may be targeted by this crime and to be wary of any such requests that arrive via a phone call. Authorities say the Sheriff’s Department does not resolve warrants in this manner and would never solicit payments over the phone. All warrants must be settled through official channels and cannot be resolved through phone conversations.