Man posing as Pinellas deputy uses phone scam to get money from victims

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A suspect is posing as a Pinellas County deputy to scam people out of money, Pinellas detectives said.

Colin Murphy was nearly a victim. He received a phone call Friday afternoon from his mother. She said the sheriff’s office called looking for him.

“I had no idea why they were looking for me so I called back and got that recording,” said Murphy.

Murphy called the number back and got a recording. He said two minutes later, a man called back, claiming to be Captain Mark Dunnagan. The suspect is telling people they missed a court hearing and they need to pay a fine or go to jail.

“He said if you hang up you’re a fleeing suspect at that point and we will come pick you up,” said Murphy.

Scared, Murphy takes the money out of his account.

“Took out $500 cash, said ok, I’m on my way to the sheriff’s department,” he said. “He said nope, you have to go to a Walgreens or CVS or Walmart and you have to use a Green pack money card.”

That’s when Murphy became suspicious.

He said, “I put him on hold, did a reverse look up on my phone and started doing research on the number.”

Murphy discovered the number did not trace back to the sheriff’s office. Luckily, he held off giving out the serial number on the back of the card, but detectives said others have been scammed.

“What he’s telling people is that they had missed their federal grand jury appointment and they’ll be arrested as a result of that If they don’t pay a fine, a $1,000 fine,” said Sgt. Spencer Gross, with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. “Nobody here at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is going to call them and solicit them for money.”

Murphy hopes this warns others. Murphy will get his money back. He has to wait at least two weeks for Green Dot to mail him the card. Detectives warn the suspect is using deputies’ and judges’ names when he speaks to unsuspecting victims. Investigators said he’s also citing laws to make himself sound believable.

The suspect is calling from a (727) area code, which detectives have not been able to trace.

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