Orange County warns phone scammers impersonating sheriff's office personnel

Orange County warns phone scammers impersonating sheriff's office personnel

Phone scams have been spreading and infecting areas all over the country, according to reports from the FBI, the BBB and the IRS, and the Southeast Texas community has not escaped the effects. Prior reports from The Examiner have warned of the scams reported in Jefferson and Jasper Counties. Now, Orange County reports they too have numerous reports from victims of phone scams in which the callers represent themselves as a part of the county's law enforcement agency, the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

According to a news release from OCSO, the office has received several reports about a scam using OCSO's name to solicit money from unsuspecting victims. The scammer reportedly tells the person receiving the phone call that there is an active warrant for the person answering the phone. The person is then told that in order to avoid being arrested, he or she must purchase some type of gift card for a specific amount and provide the card number to the caller. The caller may also mention that the warrant is in reference to failing to respond to a Grand Jury subpoena.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public that this is a scam. OCSO will not call anyone and ask for a payment to be made over the phone.

OCSO Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said the office received several calls in a single day from individuals in the county who had received bogus calls demanding money. No businesses reported receiving calls pertaining to this con, but Hodgkinson said at least one Orange resident fell for the scam.

"People are told there is a warrant for their arrest because they missed a Grand Jury summons, or failure to appear for jury duty," said the chief deputy. "A lot of people don;t respond to jury summons, so I think that's why people were more susceptible to this (scam)."

Hodgkinson said it can be "very difficult" to track suspects in cases such as these because the callers "spoof" phone numbers, or disguise them, making it appear as though the calls are coming from some official entity, such as the sheriff's office, the electric company or even the city water department in cases like recent instances in Beaumont. However, he added, "They do make mistakes. When they do, we follow those leads and will make arrests."

Currently, the only known identified phone number used by the suspect so far in this scam is (409) 238-0229, but Hodgkinson warned other numbers have also been utilized. Anyone receiving a suspicious, unsolicited phone call from someone who identifies themselves as the Orange County Sheriff’s Office or a deputy asking for or demanding money, please call OCSO in Orange at (409) 883-2612 or (409) 769-0291 for the Vidor area in order to make a report. 

Again, do not provide the caller any payment over the phone as this is a scam, warns OCSO.