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A familiar scam has resurfaced in Wilson over the past several days. That scam includes someone calling residents impersonating Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and trying to extort money by claiming to have warrants, orders for arrests and failing to report for jury duty.
The sheriff’s office and the Wilson County Clerk of Courts office are urging the public to remain vigilant and contact them if they receive one of these fraudulent calls.
Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff, said they have experienced an increase in these types of calls being reported over the past several days. Samuel said as of Thursday, they haven’t had anyone actually fall for the scam.
“We have received several other complaints similar in nature,” Samuel said.
Caroline Quinn, Wilson County Clerk of Superior Court, said some of the fraudulent calls consist of someone saying the individual has missed jury duty, and some are being told they have a misdemeanor warrant out for their arrest as a result. Officials say some of these calls sound quite convicting but not to fall for it and become a victim.
“They’ve gotten smarter about what they are doing,” Quinn said about the scammers.
Quinn said the scammers are telling residents to meet them at the sheriff’s office or the second floor of the courthouse to pay them in the form of a money card as a result of the fake warrant. The scammer will often tell the resident to change locations on where to meet them about an hour prior to the arrangement, officials said.
These phone calls are also coming from a 252 area code.
If you receive a call like this, authorities say hang up the phone without giving any information about yourself. Quinn said to call the sheriff’s office at 252-237-2118 or contact the clerk’s office to see whether they have missed jury duty at 252-206-3000.
“We are never going to ask anyone to get gift cards and meet us somewhere,” Quinn said. “We don’t generally call jurors if they miss court.”
In a recent report, Samuel said a resident received a message telling her to contact Cpl. Coats or Sgt. Harris at the sheriff’s office. The message stated that there was civil paperwork issued for the woman’s arrest for failure to attend court and pay money, Samuel said. The resident called the number back and talked with a man who said he was with the sheriff’s office, and she needed to pay $11,000. That scammer also told her that the sheriff’s office did not accept checks or debit cards and told her to go to Staples or Walmart and purchase a money card and then call the number back.
Samuel said the resident immediately contacted the sheriff’s office, which is exactly what they want residents to do.
“We don’t call asking for you to send money,” Samuel said. “If there is any type of sheriff’s business we would show up at your home. We don’t ask for payments over the phone.”
Samuel said it is a familiar scam that has happened here in the past. She said they have had residents become victims in the past.
“I’m glad people are becoming more familiar with these scams and calling to report it and not becoming victims,” she said.
HOW TO AVOID THE SCAM
Officials here say do not share your address or financial information with anyone over the telephone. Hang up the phone, contact the sheriff’s office for verification or if you believe you may have become a victim of a telephone scam.
According to the state court website, this type of scam has been around for a while but has evolved over the years, but the premise is basically the same.