The San Diego County Sheriff's Department says it wants residents to be aware of people posing as sheriff's employees, calling by phone and demanding money for allegedly missing a jury duty assignment or failing to pay taxes.
The sheriff’s department sent out a bulletin with the warning this month.
Vista resident Warren Fox recently received one of the phone calls at his home. According to Fox, the man on the other end identified himself as a sheriff's sergeant and told Fox he had missed jury duty.
“He basically said, ‘You failed your jury duty summons. You are in violation of the court and possibly could be arrested or fined,’” Fox said.
The man told Fox he needed to pay $930 immediately on a prepaid card.
“The court does not conduct business with prepaid debit cards,” said Michael Roddy with the San Diego Superior Court System. “We never call a party to inform them of an issue. We will send them a written letter. If you receive a suspicious call or email, the first thing you should do is hang up and report it. Always call the court to verify. Don't just take the person's word for it, even if they represent themselves to be a law enforcement agency.”
Fox said he looked into purchasing the prepaid card but luckily didn't go through with it after he went to the Vista courthouse in-person to ask about it.
He said he hopes telling his story will serve as a warning to other potential victims.
“I will be the first to say he suckered me,” Fox said. “Bottom line is that you could lose $900 without realizing that you've been had.”
Impersonating a sheriff's deputy is a violation of state law. Law enforcement officials told NBC 7 Investigates these criminals are difficult to catch, which is why it's important to report it.