Phone scammers pretending to be police target metro residents

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. -- The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to be vigilant after reports of a phone scam targeting people and businesses in the area. Towards the beginning of the week sheriff’s deputies began getting calls about someone pretending to be a deputy.

“Lately the scam that’s been happening is someone who has been spoofing phone numbers, calling unsuspecting citizens and letting them know that they are a part of the Clay County Sheriff’s office,” said Capt. Will Akin with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

“They are telling them that they have a warrant for their arrest, they have outstanding tickets and they’re telling them that we’re going to be coming out and arresting them if we don’t pay them,” he explained.

One business owner says she was called at the veterinary clinic she operates.

“It was a gentleman identifying himself as a deputy with the Clay County sheriff's department, then as the conversation unfolded he made me aware of the fact that I had missed a summons for jury duty and had two outstanding warrants for my arrest,” said Dr. Andrea Grow D.V.M.

The doctor began taking notes while on the phone, she says she was given a lot of information about her case.

“The conversation just became more and more detailed, he had citation numbers, he had seemingly some information about me,” said Grow.

The caller even volunteered a name and badge number.

“The unsettling part came about 10 minutes into the conversation where at that point he was asking me to serve ad my own bail bondsman more or less. He wanted me to credit $500 deposit times two for both of the infractions that would be credited back to me upon my appearance in court. At that point I knew this was going no further,” said Grow.

Knowing this wasn’t legitimate, she offered to come to the Sheriff’s office and resolve this face to face, that’s when the caller hung up.

“I think the scariest part is how savvy and how calculated and how much detailed information this gentleman seemed to have, maybe not on me but it really did seem very elaborate,” said Grow.

She didn’t give out any personal information, but there could be others who were not as wise.

“The danger is more fiscal than anything. We’ve seen people get scammed out of a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars,” said Akin.

Deputies say phone scams are common but what stands out about this - is the amount of detail the caller gave and that the number he called from was very similar to the real Clay County sheriff’s office phone number.

“We will look into this, we will trace phone numbers, but it could end up being in California, it could end up being in Florida, not necessarily here so those are the challenges we’re up against,” said Akin.

Law enforcement officers say they’ll never call a person and ask for payment over the phone. If you get one of these calls hang up and report it to authorities.