Knox County Sheriff's Office warns of phone scam

Knox County Sheriff's Office warns of phone scam targeting the elderly

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By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Knox County Sheriff's Office is warning citizens about a phone scam in which the caller pretends to be a deputy demanding money.

KCSO says it has taken 21 reports since February 27 from people who received calls from a man claiming to be a KCSO warrants officer, telling victims they failed to show up for jury duty.

Monica Smith was targeted by this scammer on Sunday, "It was terrible to think that you're going to go to jail. He told me I could do 12 months in jail just for not showing up."

He then threatens to issue a warrant for their arrest unless they pay the fine by purchasing a Green Dot card and giving him the numbers from it.

Investigators say whether it's landlines or cell phones both are getting calls, which are coming from an 865 area code. The suspect always greets people as lieutenant or detective with the Sheriff's Office and seems to be targeting the elderly.

Lieutenant Mark Harvey says at least two people have fallen victim, paying this scammer cash.

"A particularly disturbing part is that they seem to have some familiarity with both our law enforcement agency and with the local judicial system, because they've named both current and former officers," added Lieutenant Harvey.

So what do you need to know if you get targeted?

"If we're going to serve a warrant on you we'll come directly to you. We're not going to make a phone call and elicit your response," said Lieutenant Harvey.

Investigators say it's OK to ask questions, get this caller's name, and get a phone number.

"I asked him a lot of questions about his badge number, his commanding officer. I asked him the name of the judge that was on my warrant and he couldn't answer those questions," said Smith.

Smith says she feels like one of the lucky ones because she didn't lose any money but she has learned a valuable lesson.

"I'm more likely to let a new number go to voicemail now," she said.

KCSO says the suspect has changed his number 60 times and often identifies himself using the names of actual KCSO officers.

Elderly citizens seem to be the targets of the scam, one of which suffered health problems following the phone call.

Anyone who receives a similar phone call is warned not to give out any personal information and to contact KCSO at (865) 215-2243 to file a report.

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