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'It happens quite a bit': Lorain County Sheriff's Office warns about scam call impersonating deputy

Phone imposter scam hits Cleveland Housing Court
Posted at 10:32 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 23:17:48-05

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office is warning about the latest phone scam. Investigators say reports are flooding the dispatch center about scammers impersonating a deputy.

“It happens quite a bit, pretty regularly, unfortunately,” said Detective Lieutenant Robert Vansant.

He explained the latest call is a scammer posing as a Sheriff’s deputy. The call may appear legitimate because the phone number is the same as the actual Lorain County Sheriff’s number.

“They’ll call the intended victim and tell them they’ve missed a court date, they’ve missed jury duty or there was a warrant issued for their arrest. And in order to satisfy that warrant, they’re instructed to go out and get gift cards,” Vansant said.

Law enforcement will never call a warrant subject and offer to resolve it in exchange for money or gift cards, Vansant warned. He recommended checking directly with the department the caller claims to represent to verify their identity.

“You should ask yourself, 'Have you had any negative contact with law enforcement?' And if you have not, that should be a key indicator that you’re not in any trouble and no one’s looking for you,” he said.

The scam is part of a growing trend. According to a report by spam blocking app TrueCaller, phishing scams conned 68 million Americans out of $40 billion in 2022. That’s up from 59.4 million people scammed in 2021 and 56 million scammed in 2020.

RELATED: Americans lost $40B to phishing scams in 2022, report finds

Though seniors are often targeted by scammers, Vansant said the latest scam call in Lorain County is affecting all demographics. Some have lost sizable amounts of money.

“I received a call just the other day of a couple in the city of Avon that paid $1000 to try to settle their warrants,” he said. “Unfortunately, they had already given them the numbers on the back of the gift card and there’s no way of retracting that or getting any of the money back.”

The Sheriff’s Office is asking those who receive scam calls to avoid calling 911 because it can tie up critical resources. Instead, you should call your local police department or sheriff’s office non-emergency number or stop by in-person to make them aware of the situation.

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