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Sheriff warns of another scam – spoofed WCSO phone number

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Last Updated on March 6, 2021 4:33 pm

Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman is warning of yet another scam making the rounds locally. This one involves a phone number that appears to be from the Sheriff's Office asking for money.

Hagaman reports that a local elderly couple just got scammed from a spoofed WCSO phone number – (828) 264-3761) asking for money. The couple was told that they would be arrested if the money was not sent. The couple sent $5,000 to the fake “Lieutenant.”

Sheriff Hagaman reminds all, “that if anyone gets a call claiming to be, or from, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office asking for money, simply hang up as we never call asking for money.”

The Sheriff went on to say that, “All monies associated with a bond, civil, or criminal matter, and arrest are ALL processed through the Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court. If there is any doubt, contact the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, 24-hours a day and ask for Deputy, Supervisor, or on call Criminal Investigator.”

This is the second scam in just the last few days. In late February, the department warned of a scam where the caller tells the person answering the phone that they are a grandchild or family member and that something tragic has happened. (All callers have reported that the initial caller does sound similar to their grandchildren or family member). Possible incidents they have described- wrecks, dui’s, drug incidents, or even death cases

Suspect caller goal: they then ask for bail money, immediately to be paid by gift cards or Wal Mart money transfer. In some cases they additionally tell the victim they have to talk to a Judge, an Attorney or a bondsman to pay immediately.

The victims believe it is their loved one and that they are in trouble, they are taken off guard and/or surprised, feeling the need to help out. Victims who question the validity of the call then get threatened to be arrested, or in a few instances that they will come to their house and assault or murder them.

Judges, Attorney’s, and Bondsman do not call family members asking for money. No part of the judicial process involves these authorities taking money over the phone via gift cards or Wal Mart money transfers.

In fact if any “agency” or so called representative is calling you asking for money to be paid immediately, by wire transfers, by gift cards, by giving your bank account information, or your debit card, it is probably a scam. Please air on the side of caution. If you are not sure, hang up and call the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office or Law Enforcement agency who serves the jurisdiction you are in for clarification. If you give money to these scammers it will be gone forever without the ability to be recovered.

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