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Santa Rosa County Clerk’s Office warns of phone scams

| Staff Reporters
Phone scams are on the rise in the State of Florida. This is according to the Office of Inspector General, which has received reports from residents and former residents since April 4. The Santa Rosa County Clerk’s Office wants to make residents aware of this scam and how it is being perpetrated.
Don Spencer.

WHAT KIND OF SCAM: The complainants were told they did not report for jury duty, had a warrant for their arrest, were in contempt of court, or failed to pay a traffic citation.

WHAT DID THE SCAMMERS DEMAND: The scammers demanded between $500 and $10,000 from the victims, who were told they could pay in cash or through an electronic pay application like Zelle.

HOW DOES THE SCAM WORK: In almost every report, the fraudster had an apparently authentic phone number show up on the victim’s caller ID.  The phone number may be a “spoofed” number, which means the number is not coming from the number being displayed and the call is really coming from a completely different number that is not visible to the victim. Other victims reported the calls coming through with blocked numbers.

MORE DETAILS: When some victims caught on to the scam and tried to hang up, the fraudster convinced them to be transferred to an alleged supervisor to confirm the violations. In other instances, the fraudster used real Sheriff’s Office employee names and badge numbers, or an actual County judge’s name, to convince the victim the violations were real.

Two victims in the state reported that the scammers convinced them to pay the money demanded: one paid $1,800 and another paid $3,500. One victim in the state was convinced to attempt a $10,000 cash withdrawal, which was intercepted quickly by a financial institution employee when they recognized the scam.

Residents are advised to be wary of caller IDs and to never give personal or financial information over the phone to a stranger. Please remember that Florida Clerk’s Offices will never call to demand payments. If you encounter any suspicious calls, please report them immediately.”

Tips to avoid being a victim of a phone scam

  • Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. Callers can leave a message, and you can choose whether to return their call.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone if you don’t know or trust the person.
  • If someone is pressuring you to act quickly in sending money, hang up.
  • Ask a relative or friend about the situation. If it seems too good to be true, or you feel intimated, call someone you trust.
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