WASHOE COUNTY, NV - The next time you answer a phone call, the person on the receiving end might not be who they say they are. It's part of another elaborate phone scam to make you cough up the cash and hand over personal information.
When the phone rings, it's instinct to pick up, even if you don't recognize the number. Although, harmless most of the time, you never know who is on the other line. Recently, scammers have been using computer generated numbers to call potential victims, claiming that they are from the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
Here's how they work. Callers will say you have a citation from a traffic violation caught on camera. Now, you have to pay about $500 in bail money, but they are willing to negotiate a smaller fee if you agree to pay them over the phone. Over the past 24 hours, around a dozen people from Washoe County say they've received these calls.
"We don't use traffic cameras in Washoe County and we certainly don't negotiate traffic citations or bail amounts or any money issues over the phone from the Sheriff's Office," said Under-sheriff Tim Kuzanek from the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
The impersonator tells the resident that they've been cited for speeding based on a "photo ticket" from an intersection camera, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The resident is told that they missed a court date set in the ticket and now owe a certain amount of money.
By asking for a smaller, more realistic cash amount and an authoritative voice, the callers seem very believable.
'These callers are using the name of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office," said Kuzanek. "They're going right at the heart of why people trust us...They're potentially victimizing people by using that trust that the citizens of Washoe County have in the Sheriff's Office.
Currently, investigators don't think scammers are targeting a specific demographic at this time.
Anyone who has been a victim of this scam, or who receives such a call, is encouraged to take down as much information as possible, such as a name and call back number, without giving any information away. Then, immediately contact the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office at (775) 785-WCSO (9276).