The Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department has alerted the community to the threat of yet another scam which criminals are attempting to perpetrate in the area.
In this newest incarnation of the “telephone scam” criminals are contacting residents, posing as representatives of the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department.
These phony Sheriff’s office employees will advise their victim of outstanding warrants which they supposedly have against them. The criminals will then demand a gift card to prevent the victim from being arrested. This is nothing more than a new twist on an old con designed to separate unsuspecting victims from their hard-earned money.
In a statement posted on social media, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department said, “Although we all love gift cards, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s office will never ask anyone to provide us with a gift card for any reason, much less for the purpose of not being arrested. We ask that you be vigilant and not fall for this scam. Unfortunately, the holidays seem to bring more of these types of scams, so we are sure to see more in the future.”
The statement concluded with a warning: “If you are a scammer, we ask that you leave our citizens alone, they are good people! If you don’t leave them alone, we might just be contacting you shortly with a real warrant for your arrest.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, as of 2017, West Virginia ranked 33rd. in the nation for incidents of reported fraud. The 8,953 incidents reported accounted for $5.8 million in total losses from the victims. Each scam cost its victim $500 on average. Imposter scams, such as the one described by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department, account for 25% of all scams reported within the state.
Although there are many variations of the imposter scam, this particular version typically goes one of two ways; perpetrators may demand gift cards to clear or satisfy the fictitious warrant, or they may imply that the gift card will be used as a “bribe” to prevent the victim from being arrested, but not necessarily cancelling the warrant. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones from any of these types of scams, they are a few simple yet important things to remember.
First, no legitimate law enforcement agency, bank, government entity or business will ever request payment for services, goods, fines, penalties, warrants, administrative fees or anything else to be made in the form of a gift card. This will simply never happen. If a legitimate debt is truly owed, then the creditor to whom you owe the debt will want to be paid in legitimate money. While a gift card may serve as appropriate currency for the neighborhood kid who shovels your driveway, it will never be acceptable for use in paying your bills.
Second, while in certain instances it is possible for a law enforcement agency to contact someone via the telephone to advise them of an outstanding warrant, in almost every situation, they will request that the individual contacted present themselves in person to that agency’s headquarters to resolve the matter. And under no circumstances will a law enforcement agency ever call and demand that a person post their own bail over the phone.
If you believe that someone is attempting to victimize you by using this or any other scam, immediately contact the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s office, at 304-647-6634, or the Lewisburg Police Department, at 304-645-1626. Under no circumstances should you disclose credit or debit card, bank or gift card information to anyone with whom you are not personally familiar.