AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Law enforcement agencies throughout the CSRA are warning the public about phone scammers. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office as well as Aiken and North Augusta Public Safety Departments have received several reports of scammers posing as law enforcement officers. Scammers demand money from residents, saying they need to pay for citations, arrest warrants or court fees for themselves or a loved one who has been arrested.
“If you are going to get a call from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, we’re not going to ask you for money on the phone,” Inv. Josh Anderson says.
“Most law enforcement agencies don’t call you and tell you you have a warrant on you, and say, ‘If you pay this amount of money, we’ll take the warrant off you,” Capt Martin Sawyer, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, explains. “Once you have a warrant, you have to be arrested and go through the process.”
Scammers request money be sent through cryptocurrency, gift card or prepaid Green Dot card, allowing them to receive the funds without being traced.
“No law enforcement agency takes Green Dot cards,” Sawyer says. “If anyone calls and tells you you have a warrant, or ‘Your grandson has been arrested, pay us in Green Dot,’ hang up the phone. It is a scam.”
“If you have a warrant from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, we’re not going to request money over the phone. We’re certainly not going to accept Bitcoin or gift cards as payments,” Anderson adds.
Investigators say scammers often do not live in the state or even the country, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute them.
Sawyer says “several scams” are reported each week in Aiken. In Richmond County, $1.7 million was lost in scams from March 2020 to March 2021, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
If a person believes a scammer has contacted them, investigators advise them them to write down the alleged scammer’s phone number, hang up immediately and report the incident to law enforcement.
“If you have questions about a phone call or are unsure about something, call somebody and ask before you send money out,” Anderson advises.