Polk County Sheriff’s Office Alerting Residents of Phone Scams

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Polk County Sheriff's Office says scammers are using a new technique.

The newest wave of phone scams hitting the metro is using the names of deputies to try and steal from people over the phone. Lieutenant Rich Blaylock with the PCSO says it's a method he hasn't seen here before.

“They’re saying, 'this is Lieutenant Blaylock with the sheriff's office, you have a warrant for your arrest' and asking them to bring cash or gift cards to take care of the warrant, and that is not how it happens," Lieutenant Blaylock said.

The scammers are not just impersonating Blaylock, but office employees, too. Scammers are calling and asking for upwards of $1,500, saying the money will settle a warrant. However, Blaylock says settling warrants over the phone is not the procedure, and the scammers are often targeting a certain group of people.

“It seems to be older residents, you know there are some younger people that are trying to get scammed, but older people get scammed at a higher rate, I believe," Lieutenant Blaylock said.

Phone scamming often shows up on phones as No Caller ID, and if answered, the person on the other end could be thousands of miles away.

“A criminal from anywhere in the world could make your caller ID display show it's your next-door neighbor, it's your own phone number, it's the sheriff’s office, it's any law enforcement agency, it's the IRS. They can manipulate that device to show whatever they want it to show, and that helps further their scams," said Geoff Greenwood with the Attorney General's Office.

Criminals are using an internet phone system to ask for prepaid money cards, gift cards, and any other type of immediate payment, and once that information is provided to the criminal, it's as good as giving them cash.