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Don't fall for this phone scam, Lincoln County deputies say

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office reminds citizens that law enforcement doesn't accept money to cancel warrants or arrest orders.
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LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office shared a timely reminder Thursday: don't fall for phone scams.

Deputies said two people this week fell victim to such schemes. On Tuesday, a woman was reportedly called by a man pretending to be "Detective Daniel Johnson", claiming she needed to pay for a contempt of court order. The man claimed the order stemmed from a citation in Mecklenburg County and had the woman's name, citation number, and other information that made her believe the call was legitimate.

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Deputies noted the call followed a typical script used by scammers, keeping her on the phone the entire time to supposedly avoid arrest. She was then told to deposit a total of $1,400 into a Coin Flip Crypto ATM at a business on East Main Street in Lincolnton. The caller hung up, however, when the woman walked toward the Lincolnton Police Department.

The second scam unfolded a day later. On Wednesday, a male victim got a call claiming he had a warrant for his arrest for not appearing in court. He was told to get $1,000 and deposit it using a QR code at a kiosk on East Main Street in Lincolnton. Deputies said the man followed the caller's instructions.

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Deputies remind citizens warrants are served in person only, not via phone, and that law enforcement does not accept money to cancel warrants or arrest orders. You shouldn't provide personal identifying information over the phone as well. Don't purchase money cards or otherwise exchange money for these calls as well.

The sheriff's office said the best thing to do is simply end the call. You may be pressured to stay on the line, but that pressure should be resisted.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam 

  • Emotional appeal - Any pitch that ratchets up your emotion will inhibit your rational judgment.  

  • Sense of urgency - You MUST act now, or else.  

  • Request for unorthodox payment - Gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, etc.  

  • Explanations that don't ring true - If your new “landlord” can’t show you the inside of the house, that could be because they don’t own it.  

  • You won, now pay up - It’s not a prize if you have to pay for it. Taxes, fees, shipping, whatever.  

  • Too good to be true - That’s because it’s not true. Sorry, your long-lost relative didn’t die, leaving you millions. That car you bought online for a third of its Kelly Blue Book value doesn’t really exist. The son of a billionaire diamond broker didn’t “swipe right” on you and fall instantly in love. That work-at-home job paying you hundreds of dollars an hour for stuffing envelopes isn’t real. 

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