Scammers use HCSO to trick victims into paying up

September 13, 2013 2:02:36 PM PDT
The Harris County Sheriff's Office says scammers are back to work, and this time, they're using the department to intimidate their victims into giving out cash.

The sheriff's office says scammers are pretending to be law enforcement officers who are collecting debt and they're threatening to put people into jail if they don't pay the money they claim to be owed. In some of the instances, the scammers even pretended to be Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

Authorities say the scammers ask the victims to purchase pre-paid gift cards and then call back with the card information. Most of the victims say they don't owe any debt, but were tempted to believe the scammers because the caller ID identified the number as the Harris County Sheriff's Office. However, the department says it never solicits or collects money for unpaid tickets, fees, or any other debts over the phone or via email.

"If you receive such a phone call, never give any personal information to the caller. Make the scammer answer your questions. Always get a call back phone number and never send money to anyone you don't know," the department says in a statement. "If you do indeed have a debt that needs to be paid, make the necessary arrangements with the entity to which you owe money."

If you feel you have been a victim of such a scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency and the Better Business Bureau.

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