Don’t Be Fooled by the Fake Bell County Deputy Calling for DNA and Gift Cards
Another weird phone scam is going around in Central Texas, and police are trying to get the word out about it.
In a news release, the Bell County Sheriff's Office said they've received reports from citizens about a man claiming to be an officer with the sheriff's department and using a different name, title, and phone number each time. The man claims that the caller is subject to an arrest warrant, and that the sheriff's office needs a DNA sample.
To make the call sound more legitimate, the caller plays police scanner sound effects in the background and uses the Bell County Sheriff’s Department Public Service Office number, (254) 933-5412, as a reference.
The scam involves instructing the recipient of the call to go to a local grocery store and purchase gift cards for various amounts of money to somehow "pay off" the warrant. The caller instructs the victim to stay on the phone with them the entire time so that they can obtain the gift card information after purchase.
The Bell County Sheriff's Office is reminding citizens that they absolutely do not conduct their business in this way, and do not request that anyone purchase gift cards to satisfy a warrant. They don't call people concerning arrest warrants or conduct arraignments over the phone.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the Bell County Sheriff's Office and you feel suspicious of the caller, hang up the phone and call the sheriff's office at (254) 933-5412 to verify whether or not the call was legitimate.
I typically don't answer a number that isn't listed in my phone's contacts or immediately familiar to me. My philosophy is that if it's important, the caller will leave a voicemail with their name and number, text me, or email me.
Sadly, these scammers usually target elderly people who may be experiencing mental health issues or are easily intimidated. If you have an elderly relative or friend you believe may be vulnerable to scams like this, consider talking to them about these scams and the need to just hang up on or not even answer the phone for these callers.
The Federal Trade Commission's website has tips on avoiding and reporting scams.