The phone rings and the caller says he’s a cop and you owe money to the government for wrongdoing.
It’s a scam that targets the vulnerable and is happening now in Kings County, authorities said.
“The calls vary slightly in nature, but the scammers typically identify themselves as law enforcement and are seeking money,” the Kings County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
But it could happen anywhere.
In February, the Internal Revenue Service warned of phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents. Con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, the agency said.
Last week in Tulare County, deputies investigated a case in Goshen in which the victims were conned into believing a relative had been detained in Mexico and bail money was needed. They wired $990 from a local supermarket, but after receiving continued demands for money they became suspicious and called authorities.
Prosecutions seem to relatively rare, however. There are no active or recent cases of phone scammers being prosecuted, said Steve Wright, spokesman for the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.
The Kings County Sheriff’s Office said the right thing to do when getting one of those calls is clam up.
“If you receive a call and you’re unsure about it, the best thing to do is not provide any information to the caller,” the statement said. “Simply call the Sheriff’s Office at 559-584-9276.”
Under one scam, the caller claims to be a sergeant from the sheriff’s office working with the courts.
If you receive a call and you’re unsure about it, the best thing to do is not provide any information to the caller.
Kings County Sheriff’s Office statement
The caller says there is an open case at Kings County Superior Court and money is still due, or that the victim has missed jury duty and an arrest warrant will be issued if penalty payments are not made.
The caller asks for Social Security and credit card numbers and other personal information.
In a second scam, the caller claims to be an attorney with a law firm.
The caller tells the victims they have been ignoring notices and a case will be filed with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. The caller demands that the victims put money on a prepaid card and provide the card number to the caller to prevent the case from being filed.
That’s not how the system works, the sheriff’s office said.
“When a warrant is issued for a person who resides in Kings County, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office or other local agencies typically visit homes in an attempt to locate the warrant suspect,” a statement said. “The Kings County Sheriff’s Office never sends letters and only occasionally makes phone calls regarding warrants but never demands money to clear a warrant.”
When jury summonses are issued, they are mailed 10 days in advance and there are instructions about how to request to be excused, and other information.
Anyone with information about the phone scams should call Detective Eric Hofmans at 559-852-4554.