Authorities Warn Of Phone Scam Targeting Minnehaha County Residents
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Authorities are warning Minnehaha County residents about phone scams circulating the area, in which callers impersonate county and law enforcement officials, and demand payments.
Police say a 29-year-old Sioux Falls woman is one victim in the area, scammed out of $500. Police say she received a call from two people claiming that she owed $800 in fines for missing jury duty, and agreed to lower the fine to $500 if she paid right away. The victim bought two $250 pre-paid cards and read the numbers to the callers. Police say she didn’t realize it was a scam until she contacted the court house.
Authorities say these incidents are picking up across the area, and that scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics. Numbers can be “cloned”, so that the official county phone numbers appear on a victim’s caller ID. “They’re very persuasive,” Capt. Jason Gearman with the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office told KDLT News. “They are familiar with the inner workings of the jail, and they may even have a deputy sheriff’s name. They have used our deputy sheriff’s names in some of these scams.”
Gearman said it’s usually impossible for authorities to track that money down once it’s turned over to the scammer. The Sheriff’s Office says they’ll never request payment via pre-paid gift cards or green dot cards and that warrants aren’t issued for missing jury duty. Police say the best thing residents can do when receiving such a call is to hang up.
“The best thing people can do is hang up and then make their own phone calls,” said Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens. “There’s a lot of checking you can do first before you start paying somebody.
Gearman agreed. “If you get a call like this and you think it could be legitimate, call the sheriff’s office and we can tell you if you have a warrant. Call the police department. Ask a friend if you think it’s legitimate.”
If you think you may have a warrant under your name, all warrants can also be viewed online at gotwarrants.org.