Staying in Focus: Phone Scam Alert

You know, there are people in this world who dedicate their lives to helping others, including  our health care professionals, teachers, volunteers, police and firefighters, and our armed forces.

And then there are those who waste their lives taking advantage of people and stealing from them.

I had an encounter with this second group yesterday. The phone rang and the caller ID said Wake County Government. Normally, I do not answer the phone unless I recognize the number but this looked official. I answered the phone and the caller asked for me by name. He gave his name, which I cannot recall and  said he was an officer with the Wake County Sheriff’s department and that I had failed to answer a jury summons from September 29th and that a warrant for my arrest had been  issued on January 2nd for failure to appear for jury duty and contempt of court.

Now, I  consider myself pretty savvy and I know about phone scams, but let me tell you, this guy rattled me for a few minutes. He was very professional sounding and  with the Wake County Government caller ID , I thought at first it might be legit. He told me I would be arrested if I didn’t come down to the station on Salisbury St. in Raleigh right away. So far, he hadn’t mentioned money, just asked  if I had a cell phone. Now things began to raise my suspicions. I hadn’t received a summons either for jury duty or to appear before court. And why was a  cell phone needed? I called upstairs to my husband, Bill, and said I had a call from Wake County Government about an arrest warrant.  Fortunately, he had read a post on our neighborhood Facebook page from a neighbor who had been scammed by this person or persons.  I told the guy we were on to his scam, thanks to this neighbor, but he still had the audacity to say he would give me his officer badge number and that I had the Wake County Caller ID on my phone.  I told him, I would call the police myself and he quickly terminated the call.

Since then 2 additional neighbors have been contacted by this scammer. Had I stayed on the line, his spiel would be that he would stay on the cell with me as I obtained a voucher for $500.00 from a drug store for the fines, which would save me a trip to the sheriff’s office.

I reported this to the Cary Police, who have since put me in touch with the detective in charge of this investigation.  He asked me to warn others about this scam as it is not restricted to North Carolina, with reports from Florida and even as far as Hawaii. There may very well be more than one group involved.

The detective I spoke with said to pass the word that if someone calls with an emergency for which money is involved, especially having to do with the police or court system, be very wary. The police do not collect money this way. These people try to get you panicked or so rattled that you fall for their scheme.  There is an additional scam going on involving their claim that your power is going to be shut off unless you pay your bill – they even have the actual amount you last owed to convince you that perhaps you hadn’t paid the bill.

While writing this, the neighbor who initially warned us about this received another call from this group,. They must have misread their list and asked, not for her, but for one of her neighbors. Somehow they got hold of a list of people living in our subdivision. I feel like we are being targeted by these people. It’s very creepy.

So , please, everyone, be wary.

To Janet –  thank you so much for your post.

And to those doing this, I can only say – what a way to waste your life.

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