PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Donna Smith got a frightening phone call two weeks ago. Someone claiming to be a Lieutenant from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office told her she had an outstanding warrant for missing jury duty.
“The last thing I wanted was to think I was going to be arrested.”
They said she had to pay up to avoid going to jail, so she followed their instructions because "everything sounded so official.” She bought a prepaid debit card and gave them the number.
“I was upset, got caught up in the moment.”
Donna is out more than $300, but she’s not the only one.
The Sheriff’s Office says 12 people have reported similar calls, some losing thousands. There are also dozens more victimized by other phone and internet scams.
“The money that you sent is gone. The Sheriff’s office is not going to be able to get it back for you,” said Detective Anthony Cardillo.
The thieves are using untraceable numbers and are likely out of the country.
“We’ve talked to the gentlemen and the ladies on the other side of that phone number. They know they are scam artists. We’ve informed them that we know they are scam artists. But they know that we are so limited and how far it reaches to catch them, that they laugh at us,” said Cardillo.
“I pray and hope that people will really pay attention that when they get these phone calls, and the minute they ask about money you should hang up,” said Smith.
To verify the person calling is legit, don’t just call the same number back. Look up the information so you know it’s real.
Donna now knows not to trust anyone that calls asking for money or personal information.
“Never ever again.”
The Sheriff’s Office says two of the numbers they’ve noticed as frequent callers are 727-258-5651 and 727-258-5654.