Scammers are executing a ‘phone scam’ where they call area residents and threaten to arrest them for unpaid fines.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace wants to notify residents, “The Sheriff’s Department would never call anybody asking for money. If we have a warrant for your arrest, we will knock on your door with the warrant. We do not collect fines. These scammers are using websites and devices that allow them to use any number they choose in the caller ID. So, the call may look like it is coming from the Sheriff’s Office or some other legitimate law agency. They may even Google local communities to get officer’s names,” explained Sheriff Pace. ” But this is all a scam, and almost everyone is originating overseas; these are not local criminals. These scams are nationwide and rampant. They are very difficult for law enforcement to address because, in every case, the scams are originating in foreign countries.”

“The Warren County Sheriff’s Office will never call anybody on the phone and ask them to go buy a…and here’s the two kinds, most of them are asking you to buy a pre-paid Visa card, we commonly refer to as a green dot card and they will ask you for the control number of the card, they don’t physically need the card. Or they will have you purchase a Bitcoin. The Sheriff’s office will never call you on the phone to solicit money nor does any court that I’m aware of deal in pre-paid cards or bitcoins. That should be a red flag immediately that this is not legitimate.”

The scammers will scare you into believing law enforcement units are on the way to arrest you unless you pay the fine immediately.

The scam has been surprisingly successful, largely due to the scammers’ ability to instill fear and urgency in their victims, and their use of seemingly legitimate law enforcement terminology and tactics.

The key point to remember is that law enforcement will never call you to collect a fine. No court will insist you stay on the phone while you buy a pre-paid card or Bitcoin to pay them.