RENO, NV - The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is again issuing a warning to local residents about a phone scam in which scammers are posing as local law enforcement personal to fraudulently obtain money from innocent victims.
"Residents of Washoe County need to be aware that there is a dangerous and disturbing new phone scam developing in our community,” Washoe County Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek says. “Our office has received a number of calls in the last couple of days about scammers, using names of legitimate law enforcement personnel, who use the threat of imprisonment unless the victim pays.”
The scam is called the “Arrest Warrant Scam” and Undersheriff Kuzanek says scammers tend to target vulnerable people such as the elderly and those who are new to the country.
Scammers call potential victims and identify themselves as a representative from a local law enforcement agency such as the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. They may represent themselves as being with other local law enforcement agencies as well.
The scammer tells the person there is a warrant out for his or her arrest for a certain fine. The reason for the warrant is represented as being anything from a traffic violation to failure to pay full income tax requirements to the Internal Revenue Service.
The scammer then tells the potential victims that the options are to surrender themselves to the Sheriff’s Office for arrest, or that they may pay a “reduced” payment of the fine to adjudicate the warrant.
The scammer then provides instruction on how the payment should be submitted, usually through an “eGift” cash card or similar payment to a specified account or name given by the caller.
These scam artists use pre-paid phones and many times are not even in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, making their apprehension difficult.
“Although the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office will sometimes make calls to inform someone about a warrant, we never ask for payment over the phone or negotiate for payment in lieu of arrest,” Undersheriff Kuzanek says. “Anyone with questions about a warrant may call the courts and local law enforcement agencies. No agency in the region offers reduced rates or takes payments over the phone for warrants and fines.”
Undersheriff Kuzanek said 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 callback number, without giving any information away. Then, immediately contact the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office at (775) 785-WCSO (9276).