Bee Investigator

Scammers posing as Sheriff’s Department officials are threatening arrest

FILE PHOTO — A patrol car from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department
FILE PHOTO — A patrol car from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department

Scammers posing as members of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department are using scare tactics to get people’s money.

The Sheriff’s Department received a report Wednesday from a resident who got a call from the number 209-883-6299.

Callers to that number will be sent to an automated phone tree with the computerized voice of a woman offering options for different units within what they say is the sheriff’s department and even includes the names of actual sheriff’s department personnel.

Before listing the units the voice says, “Please make note the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s office no longer accepts checks, cash or credit/debit cards for payment. Only secure electronic vouchers are accepted per Sheriff Christianson.”

I called the number and not long after received a call from a man who said he was Lt. Ronald Rollins from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

There is no one who works at the Sheriff’s Department by that name.

This man used a caller ID spoofing app to show that he was calling me from the actual sheriff’s department phone number.

He told me he was making a courtesy call regarding jury services and asked for my name.

I gave him a fake name and he pretended to look up my information. Sure enough, he came back with two misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear on a federal grand jury summons.

He did not explain why the county sheriff’s department was concerned with a federal matter.

When I told him I received no such summons, he instructed me to state my full name the date and time to make a recorded declaration.

When I refused he told me he would immediately deploy deputies to my home or place of business to arrest me.

He also said he had called me as a courtesy because I did not have a criminal record but if I had I would have just been arrested immediately.

Yeah, I also wouldn’t have been summoned to serve on a jury.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Letras — a real peace officer — said detectives are trying to determine who is behind the scam.

He said people should be aware that the Sheriff’s Department will never “ask for money over the phone and certainly not an electronic transfer of funds for any services or fines.”

They also will never solicit money to avoid a warrant.

This same scam was going around in February but seems to have evolved a bit with the fake phone tree and the scammer pretending to go through the motions of looking up my name before going straight to the scare tactic.

If you have concerns or questions you can call the real Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department at 209-525-7114.