When a Social Circle resident received a phone call from a police officer threatening to arrest him unless he paid a fine to void a warrant, he sensed something was fishy.
The Social Circle Police Department received a report Tuesday from a 70-year-old resident who claimed he was contacted by someone attempting to fraudulently obtain money. The man reported to the police at 3:50 p.m. that he was contacted by a party who identified himself as Lt. Diamond, according to a report provided by Social Circle Police Chief Terry Sosebee.
“I’ve not heard any reference at the Sheriff’s Office to that name and rank at Walton County and any area offices,” Sosebee said.
The victim was told by the alleged Lt. Diamond that he would be arrested for contempt of court if he did not provide payments for a fine through two money orders, both around $400, according to the report. He was told the charges were related to his failure to recently report for jury duty.
Coincidentally, Sosebee said, the victim had recently been summoned for jury duty but did not have to serve because the case involved issues that were resolved before the court date.
Sosebee said this scam has been going on nationwide for several years.
“People will get a phone call saying, ‘I’m an officer or deputy and you have an outstanding warrant, but you can get out of being arrested if you pay a fine and to get a money gram,’” Sosebee said.
However, this was the first reported case in Social Circle. Luckily, the victim reported the incident before paying any supposed fines.
The phone number was traced to East Point, Florida, Sosebee said.
“You should never pay a deputy or officer for a fine for something like that,” Sosebee said. “If you’re fined, you pay the Clerk of Court or the court itself. You always have the opportunity at some point to talk to a judge. You don’t pay it to an officer.”
Sosebee said anyone who receives a call like that should not get upset on the phone. Take the call, and listen to what they have to say. Call their bluff by telling them to come show you the warrant and make the arrest.
Sosebee mentioned another common scam involving a call that a grandchild, nephew or other family member is traveling overseas and needs help and to send money.
“Don’t get scared. Don’t buy in,” Sosebee said. “Make sure you know who you’re talking to. If it’s legitimate, you’ll get a call back number, and you’ll be able to talk to people. They’ll actually be trying to help you resolve something.
“These are more like threats. If you got an outstanding warrant, we’ll just arrest you. We won’t ask for fines.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office issued a similar warning last week, after scams of this nature were occurring in its jurisdiction.