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Scammers posing as sheriff’s employees making calls in the area
scam alert

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents to not fall for scam callers pretending to be sheriff’s department employees and demanding money.

The sheriff’s department became aware of the current scam when a citizen reported getting a call that demanded funds be transferred electronically to avoid being arrested for missing a jury summons.

The number, 209-883-6299, led callers to a phone tree with an electronic female voice stating that it belonged to the department. In the message, it mentions that the department no longer accepts checks or credit card payments and only accepts electronic payments.

The sheriff’s department wants residents to know that they never call people and ask for money to avoid an arrest warrant.

Scammers can change numbers via computer programs, so there may be other numbers in use for this particular scam.

While these types of calls may seem obviously phony to some, it also appears legitimate to others and it’s a profitable enterprise for these scammers. The Federal trade Commission reported that in 2017 there was an estimated $905 million lost to scammers.

The FTC said they took 2.7 million reports in 2017 of scams, with the top three being debt collections, identity theft, and imposter scams. An imposter scam is someone pretending to be a loved one in distress, or a government official, tech support, or someone else who’s not who they say they are, but who wants your money. Nearly 1 in 5 people who reported an imposter scam lost money for an estimated total of $328 million, according to the FTC.

Those falling victim to these scams aren’t necessarily the elderly. The FTC reported that of the scam reports taken last year, 40 percent came from people ages 20 to 29 years, while 18 percent came from people 70 years or older. However, the money lost from the elderly was usually a greater amount.

Other key findings from the FTC report include:

• People reported that scammers mostly contacted them by phone, and they mostly paid for frauds – once again – by wire transfer. 

• For all fraud reports in 2017, the median loss was $429. Compare that to a $500 median loss to imposters, a $720 median fraud loss to scams that come in by phone, a $1,710 median loss related to travel, vacations and timeshares. Among military consumers, median losses were higher than the general population — $619.

• Based on reports per 100,000 population, the top states for fraud reports were Florida, Georgia and Nevada. For identity theft, it’s Michigan, Florida and California.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is investigating this current scam and asks that anyone with information about it call them at 525-7114.