HUDSON — The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a phone scam in which the caller poses as a member of the Sheriff’s Office and asks for money.
The scammer has identified themselves as Sheriff’s Office Lt. Wayne Lopez and has requested residents purchase a gift card because of a missed court date, according to a statement from Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett. Residents are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office if they have any questions.
“If you receive one of these calls, please don’t give any money,” Bartlett said in the statement.
The Sheriff’s Office first received notice about the scam Thursday and it is unknown how many residents have been affected by it, Lopez said Sunday.
“I don’t believe that everyone has reported the scam,” he said.
The scam calls are coming from a real person, not a recording, and it is not thought to be targeting senior citizens, Lopez said.
“We’ve had a couple different [types of] victims,” he said.
Lopez declined to say where the calls are thought to have originated from because the case remains under investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for civil judgements and residents involved in them would only receive a notice about it in the mail from the office, Lopez said.
“What they’re claiming is not even in the realm of something that we would do,” the lieutenant said. “Nobody would ever say, ‘Hey, you missed something.’”
Residents should call the Sheriff’s Office if they get the fake call and they should not attempt to get a Visa gift card from a retail store and pay a bill with it.
“They should definitely call the Sheriff’s Office right away,” he said. “This is probably the first time someone is claiming to [be] the Sheriff’s Office.”
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office has not seen a similar scam appearing in the area, Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said Sunday.
The only notifications residents receive from Seeley’s office are solicitations for the New York State Deputies Association and for the New York State Sheriff’s Institute’s summer camp, Seeley said.
“The Sheriff’s Camp, that’s been out for years,” Seeley said.
Seeley recommends residents not commit to giving any money over the phone and if someone comes to their house claiming to be a member of Sheriff’s Office to ask for proper identification.
“Just give us a call and we can verify it. If someone shows up in person, get their ID and name,” the sheriff said. “These scammers out there, they’re trying everything and anything.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.