RICHMOND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has warned the community of a recent uptick in scams.
An unknown man has reportedly been calling people in the community, claiming to be a member of the sheriff’s department. According to authorities, these calls consistently involve the transfer of money or divulgence of personal — often financial — information.
Although these types of scams aren’t new, the department noted there has been an influx in these cases over the past few months.
“Oh, my goodness,” Richmond County Sheriff Steve Smith said. “We have a call at least once or twice a week about the scams, different ones, and they just seem to get more and more sophisticated as they go.”
Ashley Shoultz became one of the latest targets this past Tuesday. A man claiming to be “Deputy Clifton,” called the Richmond resident.
“The story was I didn’t show up for jury duty,” Shoultz said.
Shoultz said the caller gave her a few different options.
“I could go to a federally certified kiosk to pay the citation,” Shoultz said.
She was instructed to pay $900 in cash. Shoultz opted for an alternate offer.
“The citation would be dismissed, end of the story,” Shoultz said. “The caveat to that was I would have to wait eight to 12 hours in a holding cell, in jail.”
After making her way to the Richmond City Justice Center, Shoultz quickly learned what had happened. Legitimate officers at the center confirmed the call did not come from anyone within their department.
Fortunately, Shoultz didn’t lose any money to the callers, but Sheriff Smith told 8News many have. He recalled a time he interacted first-hand with a scam caller who nearly tricked a Richmond County woman out of thousands of dollars.
“I actually had the chance to talk to the individual on the phone,” Smith said. “I went up there, acted like her husband they’re very good at what they do. They were ready to wire $8,000 to this gentleman.”
Sheriff Smith reminded the community that no matter how legitimate something may seem, every call should be taken with skepticism and caution. He said the best way to avoid becoming a target is to hang up immediately and then reach out to your local sheriff’s office.
“Sheriff’s office is not going to call and ask for money,” Smith said. “The IRS is not going to call and ask you for money.”