The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has recently received several reports of a common phone scam circulating again around the community.
As part of this scam, the scammer claims they are from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, or another law enforcement entity, and may use several different names, including the names of current and former HCSO employees, such as Lt. Kevin Miller, Investigator Scott Hicks or Lt. Steve Knight. The scammer may tell the victim:
- They have warrants for their arrest (may be for a variety of reasons, including missing jury duty or a criminal violation) and would be arrested immediately unless they sent money to the scammer;
- They are raising funds for fallen officers and would like the victim to make a donation;
- Their loved one is in jail and needs their help to post bail.
In all of these situations the scammer may ask for gift cards, cash or personal information, and may threaten to arrest you if you do not comply.
Protect Yourself from Theft
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company with which you do business. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email. If a scammer is impersonating a loved one or government official, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “Social Security call” or “grandparent scam.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Don’t believe your caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up.
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
- Don’t rely on personal information
Living in the digital age, access to information is easier than ever. Scammers are often able to get their hands on very personal information, including the names, ages, and addresses of your loved ones, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your or your loved one’s personal information.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157 to learn how to report scams.