A Utah County woman has fallen victim to a phone scam where the caller used a different approach from a caller seeking money to pay for a non-existent warrant. There is a new twist to the scam this time.
*** PRESS RELEASE *** March 16, 2018: Over the past several years phone scammers have used several different approaches in an effort to steal money from innocent citizens concerned they may have unintentionally overlooked an obligation to appear in court. One tactic has included a caller telling the victim a warrant has been issued for their arrest after they failed to report for jury duty. They were told to get a "Green Dot" or other cash card and call back, or stay on the line, with a card number to clear the warrant. Another scam has a caller purporting to be a grandson who has been jailed in Mexico or another Central or South American country and they need bail money provided in a manner similar to the cash card scam. Yet another ploy has the caller saying they are with the Utah County Sheriff's Office. In this ploy they use the real name of an actual employee of the Utah County Sheriff's Office. They then try to convince the person to pay them for a non-existent warrant by using, again, a cash card. In a more dangerous scheme the caller will use one of the previous approaches and direct the victim to meet them in the parking lot of one of the Utah County Sheriff's Office facilities in Spanish Fork or in Provo. This particular approach is of particular concern because it has involved direct contact with the criminal involved in the incident.
Most recently the caller makes contact with the victim and tells them they have a warrant for failing to report for jury duty. They are told to go to a store and purchase some kind of cash card and call them back. The scammer may even stay on the phone with the victim as they drive to the store and purchase the card. After the victim provides the card number to the scammer they will tell them the real name of a Utah County Sheriff's Office employee. The scammer knows the name and the office where that employee works. The victim is instructed to report to that employee to have them then finish the process of clearing the warrant. In one case a Utah County woman, believing the caller's claim that there was a warrant for her arrest, paid them a large sum of money using a cash card and then responded to the Sheriff's Office in the Sheriff's Office in Provo and asked for the actual employee named by the caller. Only then was it discovered this woman never did have a warrant and she had been the victim of a scam.
It is possible that other people have fallen prey to this scam. They may have paid a caller using one of these approaches and, after making a payment, walked away fully believing they had avoided arrest by making that payment. The Utah County Sheriff's Office wants the public to know that no employee from the Utah County Sheriff's Office will ever call them and ask for any kind of payment over the telephone. The Sheriff's Office does have an office in our Judicial Services Division where an employee does have responsibility to call people who have a warrant out for their arrest. In these cases the employee will not ask for payment but will give instructions telling the person how to contact the Judicial Services Division or the court to legitimately pay for and clear the warrant. We reiterate that no employee of the Utah County Sheriff's Office will ever initiate a call to a person and ask for payment for a warrant over the phone.
For questions contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff's Office. (801)404-1912. Twitter: SGTCannonPIO. If a person believes they may have been victimized by a scam like this call Utah Valley Dispatch at (801)794-3970.