A scam in McMinn County last week, is now being seen in more counties in our viewing area.
Authorities do not know if they are connected, but beware the call from somebody, claiming to be from your local sheriff's department.
It could cost you, a whole lot of money.
The particular scam in Rhea County right now, involves somebody saying they're from the sheriff's department, calling seniors. "The caller tells them, they had not responded to their 'grand jury summons' or 'subpeona' to appear for grand jury duty," says Rhea County Chief Deputy John Argo, "and that they had a 500 dollar fine to be paid, or they would be locked up."
One Rhea County resident who got the call, got into an argument with the scammer and called the Sheriff's Department to complain about the officer. That's when they found out, the person who called them, was a scammer.
Not only that.. jury summons in every single county, do NOT work the way the scammer says. "We would never do it over the phone," says Rhea County Circuit Court Clerk Jamie Holloway, "and we would hever tell somebody they could pay 'X' number of dollars and not have to worry about it anymore."
But the plot thickens. In this particular case, the scammer left... a call-back number.
A REAL sheriff's deputy called that number, and found out how far the scammer was willing to go for money. "You have reached the Rhea County Sheriff's Department.. you are currently unavailable."
It was a phony message recorded by the scammer to fool people into thinking they'd reached the actual sheriff's department.
When the deputy finally reached the scammer, they exchanged words and the scammer abruptly hung up. He has now changed his phone number.
The warning to residents is clear. Chief Deputy Argo says, "If they receive a phone call from anybody identifying themselves as a police officer or government system that sounds suspicious or anything like that, please notify or contact that department itself."
Wanita LeJune actually IS reporting FOR jury duty next week. "I'd call the courthouse," she says. "I'd find out what's going on."
Folks, this scam is pretty widespread now. So far, in Rhea County it involves grand jury duty. In McMinn County, it involves unpaid fines. In Meigs County, it's failure to appear in court. The scam is also now in Bradley County.
Again, you don't get those kinds of notifications over the phone. If you get one of those calls, hang up and call your local sheriff's department right away.
By Calvin Sneed