Warrant scam targets San Diegans

Caller pretends to be a sheriff's deputy

A scam in which criminals are posing as local law enforcement is becoming more rampant in San Diego.

Gina Strickland, who was targeted by the scam, received a call from a person who said they were with the Sheriff's Department.

"Initially it sounded legitimate," Strickland said.

Strickland recalled what the voicemail said.

"This is Lieutenant Dan Willis with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department," Strickland said. "When you get this call, please return my call. This is very important."

When she finally got a hold of someone, the so-called lieutenant told Strickland she had a warrant out for her arrest for failing to appear for a photo ticket. Strickland told the caller that sounded like a scam. She hung up and called the sheriff's department, who sent a deputy to her home to take a report.

Strickland is far from the only victim. On the ABC 10News Facebook page, other viewers shared similar experiences.

"My husband, a law student, grilled the guy who said he needed to pay $1,200 or face being jailed," a woman wrote.

Strickland said she has co-workers who have heard similar stories, with the callers asking for credit card numbers. Strickland, a retired member of the Coast Guard, says she worries about those who do not know California law—especially military families and the elderly.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's department recently released a video message, warning of the scam and urging people not to do anything over the phone.

Strickland said when the dheriff's department subpoenaed the phone records, there were around 200 calls made on that phone to others who she believes could have been victims of the scam. Strickland said even though the number came from a 619 area code, the callers were from out of state.

The sheriff's department said real warrant information can be accessed online or by calling them.

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