Sheriff warns of warrant scam

Aug. 01, 2014 @ 09:02 PM

Someone has tried at least once to pose on the phone as a Durham County Sheriff’s deputy and offered to settle a purported warrant for an immediate cash payment.

Durham County sheriff’s investigators learned of the scam Friday after a woman called the Sheriff’s Office to verify the validity of a suspicious phone call.

The man identifies himself as “Sergeant Smith ”and calls from a number that displays on caller I.D. as the Sheriff’s Office main number: 919-560-0897, the sheriff’s department said in a late-afternoon news release.

“Sergeant Smith” claims to be with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division and explains that a warrant has been issued for the person he’s calling. He offers to “get the warrant taken care of” if the person agrees to immediate payment using a Green Dot card or other form of prepaid cash card, the release said.

“Law enforcement will never call you and demand payment for the resolution of an arrest warrant,” Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Dep. Paul Sherwin said. “If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, a law enforcement officer will make contact with you in person. They certainly won’t broker a cash deal to make the warrant go away. The only way to resolve a warrant is through the court system, not on the phone.”

Investigators are working to trace the suspect caller’s identification and location, and ask anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s criminal investigations division at 919-560-0880.

A Google search indicates similar scams have been reported around the country this spring and summer.

In April, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts issued a warning about two scams that cited federal courts.

One closely paralleling the one the Durham sheriff’s office reported  “involves a phone call stating that a warrant has been issued and the individual will be arrested if a fine is not paid,” according to the warning relayed by the court for the Western District of Kentucky. “Further complicating the matter is that the calls appear to be legitimate court numbers, but are, in fact, bogus, as technology is being used to spoof the Caller ID system.”