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 caller ID appears to be from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. The scammer claims they are from the Sheriff's Office and may use several different names, with the name “Lieutenant Paul Jones and Captain Paul Jones” reportedly being used most recently. The caller tells the victim that they missed a federal court appearance for which they were subpoenaed, and now the victim has a federal warrant for their immediate arrest. The scammer tells the victim to buy up to $6,000 worth of Green Dot cards or other gift cards, then instructs the victim to read the numbers on the back of the card over the phone. The scammer then tells the victim to go to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office station to verify their identity and further “straighten out the warrant.”
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like the community to know that this is a scam. While law enforcement may contact you regarding a warrant or investigation, we will never demand payment in exchange for dropping a warrant or stopping an investigation. Additionally, no government agency will ask you to mail large sums of cash or pay with gift cards or pre-paid money cards.
Remember these tips to help protect yourself from fraud:
1. Spot imposters
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.
2. Do online searches
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 “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. 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. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
4. Talk to someone
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.
5. 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, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your personal information. If you followed the above tips and still aren’t sure, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
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.
Visit https://humboldtgov.org/2864/Scam-Information to learn more about some of the common scams reported to the HCSO.