RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia State Police are warning the public about an increase of phone scams targeting people on the Sex Offender registry.

VSP said these scams all threaten people into paying large sums of money in the form of gift cards.

Officials said scammers are calling offenders and claim to be “Lieutenant Johnson” from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office. The phone fraudsters will then say there is a warrant for their arrest and failure to provide a DNA sample.

The scammer will go on to say the warrant can be removed for a fee, and provide instructions on how the payment should be submitted. It is usually in the form of a gift card from a local business.

State police said these fraudsters will often make their caller ID appear to be coming from a nearby law enforcement office. They added these scammers use prepaid phones that are usually not from the jurisdiction where the crime is happening, making apprehension difficult.

VSP, which oversees the Sex Offender registry, said it will never ask for payments to be releasedfrom a warrant.

If you receive this kind of call, state police say you should hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency or the Virginia State Police at or at 804-674-2467.