Sarasota County deputies warning of widespread phone scam

Scammers are posing as deputies and stealing money

cell phone smart phone

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an unsettling crime wave.

Scammers are posing as deputies and calling unsuspecting victims on the phone, demanding money. The callers sometimes use names of actual deputies, and they’ll ask them to quickly pay a fine and then come down to the sheriff’s office and unfortunately people are getting fooled.

Chris Wells is well aware that scammers are out there. He always thought he’d never be a victim. He was wrong.

“They are really good,” Wells admitted.

On Saturday, a man claiming he was Lt. Tom Jackson from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office called and said Wells’ wife missed federal jury duty.

“Which is quite a coincidence because I had actually just received a [summons] for federal jury duty for myself,” said Wells.

Lt. Jackson claimed she faced jail time unless she paid a $1,900 fine. The caller explained to speed up payment, she should buy Green Dot gift cards, give him the codes and then meet him at the Sheriff’s office. Wells said he sounded legitimate and convincing, so they followed his commands.

“About ten minutes after my wife left the house, I realized I had been scammed,” said Wells.

There is no Lt. Tom Jackson and all that money is gone.

“My daughter is getting married in two weeks and I can’t afford $1900!” said Wells.

It’s a rising problem that real Sarasota county deputies have seen lately. Callers will pose as deputies and call victims claiming they missed jury duty, or have arrest warrants and they must quickly pay a fine. But that’s not how the real world works.

“The only time you’re going give any kind of money when we have a warrant for your arrest is when you’re posting your bond at the jail. There’s going to be no other time that we’re taking money from you,” said SCSO Lt. Joe Giasone.

So have common sense. If a supposed deputy calls you asking for money, hang up.

“I feel extremely foolish but I will guarantee you it will never happen again,” said Wells.

This scam is rampant throughout the Tampa Bay area, and they steal money from victims of all ages.

If you ever receive a call, hang up and notify the authorities.

“I just wanna see them in jail,” added Wells.

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