NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police and the Division of Sheriffs are warning everyone not to fall for a phone scam demanding money for fines that don’t exist.
Chief Sheriff David DeCesare said several people have recently reported receiving phone calls from an individual claiming to be employed with the Division of Sheriffs.
DeCesare said the caller advises their victim that they have either missed a court date or failed to answer an order to attend as an expert witness, and that warrants have been issued for their arrest for failure to appear. In some cases, DeCesare said a nonexistent court docket number is provided.
The caller then informs the victim that they can avoid arrest if they pay a fine instead, which sometimes exceeds the amount of $5,000, then instructs the victim to withdraw the money for the fine from their bank account and place the money on “Reload It” gift cards, according to DeCesare.
DeCesare said the caller provides an address in Washington D.C. to mail the cards to, but first directs the victim to provide both the card numbers and security code numbers over the phone before placing them in the mail.
Recent victims, dating back to Nov. 8, have lost between $1,000 and $6,500, DeCesare said.
DeCesare stresses that the Division of Sheriffs does call people to ask them to arrange for service of summonses or writs, but do not call to impose, arrange or receive payment of fines or any other fees.
Anyone who receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a deputy sheriff that is seeking money should not respond.
Anyone with questions about any call from his office can contact the Division of Sheriffs at (401) 275-2900 to confirm whether the call they received is legitimate.