San Diego County Sheriff's Department warns public of warrant scam

SAN DIEGO - Authorities warned the public Monday about a telephone scam in which thieves posing as members of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department falsely inform people they are subjects of arrest warrants as a means of extorting money from them.

During the calls, the crooks claim that the victims are facing arrest over supposed failure to pay taxes or to appear for jury duty, or for some other purported offense, officials said.

Among the techniques the perpetrators use to make the pitch convincing are using the name of an actual sheriff's employee; giving the telephone number of a sheriff's station; presenting victims' personal information, such as a former address or date of birth; and threatening jail time or driver's-license revocation.

The pitches culminate with demands for money via a credit or debit card.

In some recent cases in the East County, the thieves have employed a technique called "caller spoofing," in which they make the incoming call appear to be coming from a legitimate government agency on caller-ID screens.

No sheriff's deputy or non-sworn employee ever contacts members of the public by telephone to demand a payment of any kind, authorities advised.

Anyone receiving such a call is asked to report the incident on the Federal Communications Commission website, fcc.gov/complaints, and notifying the Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200.

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