Santa Rosa County Sheriff warns of telephone scams

A nationwide phone scam that has made its way to Santa Rosa County is just the latest in a string of fraudulent callers looking to make some quick cash.

The caller, who identifies himself as Deputy Harris, accuses Santa Rosa residents of skipping jury duty and claims there’s a warrant out for their arrests, according to release from the Santa Rosa County Clerk’s office. The caller tells the victims they must pay a certain amount of money to avoid being arrested.

The caller tells the victims to stay on the phone while they buy a prepaid credit card.

The caller is very demanding and threatens the victims, saying they will receive a summons to come to the courthouse and appear before a judge to explain why they did not respond to the jury summons.

The calls were originally coming from the phone number 850-209-3494 which has recently been changed or disconnected.

The clerk’s office is warning residents that this is a scam and that the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s office does not have a Deputy Harris in its employ.

According to the release, a Santa Rosa County victim was contacted by the scammer pretending to be “Deputy Harris,” and was instructed to go to a department store and purchase a $498 Green DOT Visa prepaid credit card. The caller kept the victim on the telephone during the process. Once the victim purchased the card, the victim was instructed to give the card number and pin number to the caller. The victim complied and lost the $498 to the caller.

“If you receive a call from this scam artist do not give the caller any personal information and hang up on the caller,” Clerk Don Spencer said in the release. “Do not believe the caller’s scare tactics or threats. Please be vigilant and use caution on any type of telephone call which sounds suspicious. You can call the Santa Rosa County Clerk’s office jury selection department at 850-981-5672 if you receive a call from this scammer and have any questions regarding jury duty.”

Earlier this week, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office sent out the following advisory:

Within the past weeks, we have seen a dramatic increase in calls to our dispatch center with reports of a telephone fraud involving the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office

During these calls, the following occurred:

A telephone call is made in which the caller states they are with the Santa Rosa County Police Department or the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. The caller then states the agency has an active warrant for their arrest. The caller is described as “very convincing” and “confident” during the conversation. The caller then states there is an active warrant and they can pay an amount over the telephone. When challenged, the caller usually hangs up or become very rude, often cursing and making obscene comments over the phone.

These calls ARE NOT coming from your Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. These ARE considered telephone scams. If you receive a call from these individuals, you are requested to NOT make any payments over the phone to these individuals.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office DOES NOT make solicitation telephone calls for warrants. The only communications we provide to suspects with warrants are post card type mailers.

We are currently investigating these calls. If you have any questions related to a warrant or any other possible scam, please contact our agency.

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