Wednesday, February 28
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Sheriff Office Warns of Scam Targeting People with Incarcerated Family Members

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ASHEBORO N.C. – The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a scam targeting people with an incarcerated family member.

According to a press release, the scam works like this: The scammer calls a family member using either a blocked caller ID or one that says something official like, “State of North Carolina,” and tells them that their loved one could be released from jail with an electronic ankle monitor (sometimes called electronic house arrest or EHA) for either a flat fee of several hundred dollars and/or a monthly ‘monitoring’ fee.

The Sheriff’s Office says that one victim advised them that their loved one could be released from jail with an ankle monitor for a $618 charge. Another potential victim reported receiving a call regarding a family member who is “struggling with addiction“ and was recently arrested on an house arrest violation. The scammer stated that the family member was going to be released and needed to still be on house arrest and before the scammer could state the fee, the family member initially responded with “NO, (Offender’s name) needs to be sent to rehabilitation.” The scammer responded that they could send the family member to do a 9-month or 18-month rehab and would need $780 and would call back the following day for the payment via cash app, Venmo, or PayPal. The potential victim then realized it was a scam and contacted the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office to make them aware. The number displayed on the caller ID this scammer was using was showing as the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office.

In both cases, the scammer asked the potential victim to pay the “fee” with a debit-style card or internet-based cash app, like cash app, Venmo, or PayPal.

“This is not the first time that we’ve had this scam in Randolph County, but it has been several years” said an official with the Sheriff’s Office in a press release. “At this time, we are unaware of anyone who may have been a victim of this scam recently. Scammers are ruthless and will prey on anyone who they think will transfer their hard-earned money to them. They did a great job staying alert, collecting some details about the call, and not falling for the scammers’ efforts. Scammers will keep potential victims on the phone as long as they can and convince them any way they can. Please beware!”

Payments for court-ordered electronic house arrest monitoring run $7 a day and are usually made in person at the courthouse. Neither they nor the Sheriff’s Office ever accept internet-based cash app transactions.

Randolph County residents who may have been financially impacted already by this scam should call the law enforcement agency for your jurisdiction to report the incident.

Spoofing Scams
FCC Consumer Video: Don’t Hang On, Hang Up! To watch this video with captions, hit play, click on the settings icon, then click “Subtitles/CC” and select from available languages.

These types of scams are also known as Spoofing Scams by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.

The FCC says you may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed and says you should be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information. They also provide the following tips:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can also file a complaint with the FCC.