Sheriff warns Charlotteans of phone scam

A warning from one of the top cops in Charlotte: If you get a phone call from the sheriffs department, it may not be real!

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local Sheriff Deputy is warning the Charlotte community about continuing threatening call that scams those answering the phone.

Last Sunday night, an unknown caller said some threatening things to Ronald Matthews.

“It was very nerve-racking, very unsettling, and just plain scary” Ronald told us.

The caller on the other end identified himself as a Sheriff’s Deputy and told Matthews he missed his court appearance, was in big trouble and had to pay up immediately, even though the call was at 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.

“If I didn’t pay they said they were going to send a cruiser out to my house and arrest me, they said it was going to be about $400.00," Matthews said.

Problem is, that caller is and was a total fake, but he used a real deputy’s name and a real deputy’s badge number. On top of that, the number he was calling from was from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. For someone double checking, it may have made the whole scam look fairly legit.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael exclusively sat down with NBC Charlotte to voice his frustration with this scam and warn people of Charlotte that his agency is being used.

"It’s very upsetting, they are impersonating a police officer when they make that phone call, so we want to make sure people are not misrepresenting the sheriff’s office or one of our employees," Carmichael said.

The scam has slight variations, in Matthew's case it was a missed court appearance. Other times the con-man may try and convince the person on the other line that they missed jury duty, or have an old unsettled lawsuit.

All of the calls have one thing in common, money. Somehow, someway, they want the person they're calling to pay up, threatening the possibility of arrest. The threat is also fake, but effective.

"When you are feeding your family and I was working on accounting, so my mind was wrapped around the fact that this could be a scam," Carmichael says. "If someone gets a call like this, what do we want them to do? I recommend that they hang up on them!”

Take the Sheriff’s advice, hang up. The sheriff says that those who engage will get a call back.

For those unsure, it's advised they look up the number of the Sheriff's Office and call them directly. That's what Matthews did which gave him peace of mind.

But, whatever you do, don’t give them money. 

Typically, the scammers will ask for prepaid debit cards, wire transfers or even an iTunes card. 

Sheriff Carmichael said his office will NEVER call demanding payment or using threats of arrest.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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