22 Sep Scam Alert, Chatham County Sheriffs Office
Attention residents! Today, our Office was made aware of a rash of scam calls affecting Chatham County residents. These so-called “government impostor” scams are not new, and tend to resurface across NC from year to year. For instance, in April 2021, scammers (posing as government officials, law enforcement, or other legal authorities) targeted residents of surrounding counties in a complex attempt to swindle victims out of thousands of dollars.
Now, they’ve set their sights on Chatham.
Our deputies have taken multiple reports from victims who allegedly missed “Jury Notice” in August—this is a scam. The victims were contacted by someone posing as a member of our Office, demanding payment to avoid arrest. Just today, our deputies have halted the payment of approximately $3,200.00 to these con artists.
We have already notified our deputies, Pittsboro Police Department, Siler City Police Department and Chatham County 911 / Emergency Management, as well as local stores that sell reloadable gift cards of the scam… But we also need YOUR help! We urge you to educate yourself and those you love about this threat to prevent further victimization.
Luckily, there are several ways to spot a scam, and YOU can help spread awareness by sharing this post! Learn to recognize the following techniques used by scammers:
- Scammers like to Contact their Victims by Phone, Email, or Online Messaging Service. The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office will never call you with urgent demands for money or personal information. If someone claiming to be an employee of our agency (or any law enforcement agency) calls to request your bank account information, credit card details, social security number, or payment via gift card… It’s a scam!
Similarly, if someone claiming to be an officer sends you an email requesting donations on behalf of the Office, or payment in exchange for dropping criminal charges against you, call us immediately—do NOT engage with the scammer. Hang up the phone and call our non-emergency line at 919-542-2911 to report your experience and/or call 877-5-NO-SCAM if you feel you have been the victim of a scam and want to file a complaint.
- Scammers Use Strong Emotions to Disrupt Logic or Reasoning Abilities. In this particular scam, con artists call local residents with shocking, urgent, or frightening news—for example, a warrant has been issued for your arrest or the arrest of a loved one, you’re facing an astronomical fine for repeatedly missing jury duty or failing to appear in court, you’ve neglected to pay outstanding fees (parking tickets, speeding tickets, taxes, etc.) and now face impending legal action unless you comply with demands, a child or loved one has been arrested or suffered a tragic accident and needs immediate funds, and so on. This news tends to be unexpected, alarming, or even embarrassing to the victim… And scammers use this sense of panic to their advantage! Instead of continuing with the conversation, hang up the phone and confirm the information by calling 919-542-2911. We are here to help!
- Scammers like to be Paid by Gift Card, Cryptocurrency, Wire, or Other Less-Traceable Means. Remember, no legitimate agency or business would call you to request that a bill be settled via gift card or reloadable debit card! Scammers prefer these kinds of payment because it makes it difficult or impossible to link back to their operation or reverse the transactions… Meaning victims can be tricked out of thousands of dollars with no hope of retrieving their stolen funds. When you hear this request, recognize it for what it is… a red flag that you are talking with a scammer! Hang up the phone.
- Scammers Do Their Homework. Many con artists research their targets before calling. For instance, an online search may reveal sensitive information such as your address, birthdate, place of employment, etc. The scammer can then use this information to appear legitimate. They may also “spoof” (use an online service to fake) a real number. If your caller ID says you are receiving a call from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, it may be a trick; it’s okay to let the call go to voicemail for later review. If you call an alternate number supplied by the scammer and get a “phone tree” for our Office, it is merely another attempt to deceive you. If you have any reason to doubt the authenticity of the call, or if you were not expecting a call from us, hang up the phone and call 919-542-2911 directly. We can quickly verify whether or not one of our employees placed the call and why. When you call 911 or our non-emergency line, you will be greeted by a real person 24/7, not a voicemail—simply request to speak with a deputy and you will be transferred to an officer who can help you determine the next course of action.
- Scammers Want You to Stay Quiet. If you suspect you or someone you love may have been a victim of fraud, don’t delay! Call 911 or our non-emergency line at 919-542-2911 as soon as possible. Every minute counts, especially if there is any hope of retrieving your money… Scammers expect victims to conceal their mistake out of shame. However, hiding the truth only helps the scammers go undetected, potentially harming more victims along the way. You can also fight back by helping to spread the word, especially to aging family members, friends, or neighbors who are statistically more likely to be targeted by scammers.
Take action today to raise awareness and protect each other!