Rockingham County Sheriff Michael G. Hureau alerted residents Friday to a sinister scam in which thieves managed to spoof the Sheriff’s Department’s phone number while making demands on the telephone for money.
Spoofing occurs when a criminal is able to make the telephone number of a legitimate agency appear on the caller ID of the recipient’s answering machine while a scam call is being placed.
Hureau said Friday a spoof call was made urging a resident to contact a deputy regarding cash owed to the sheriff’s office in regards to warrants.
“This is a spoofing attack to scare victims to release money to these criminals over the telephone by mimicking an actual official telephone number,” Hureau said.
“The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents who receive these telephone calls from individuals claiming to be members of the sheriff’s office or law enforcement demanding money in lieu of arrest to contact the local police department or the sheriff’s office through the publicly listed telephone numbers for verification.”
Hureau explained the circumstances when a sheriff’s deputy might be discussing money over the phone only with someone who has been arrested.
“The sheriff’s office will not request money to be delivered to accounts in the jail, nor do we request money be given to a deputy in lieu of arrest,” Hureau said.
“If a person is arrested and bail has been set by the court, a deputy may advise a person over the telephone of their bail which will be processed by a bail commissioner who is not a member of the sheriff’s office.”
Earlier Friday, Greenland police officials had revealed they were investigating an incident in which a caller was told he had missed jury duty and now owed a large fine to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department.
“These scams can be very complex and when we called the number back it included the sheriff’s office recorded telephone directory. A simple thing that you can do when you get these numbers is to type it into (an) internet search engine. You will … probably find that others have received the same call under similar circumstances through the country,” Hureau advised.
He said anyone who has been contacted regarding a demand for money from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department is asked to report it either to Hureau’s office at (603) 679-2225 or to call the resident’s local police department.