Another common, but frustrating scam, is once again circulating across the region. Area residents need to be careful, as it involves an individual who is calling people and pretending to be a sheriff’s deputy.

Several Mercer County residents have already reported receiving the scam call, which involves the scammer telling people there is a warrant for their arrest if they don’t pay a fine for failing to show up for a grand jury date.

At that point, the scammer will then instruct the potential victim to purchase a pre-paid gift card, and then to call back and provide the gift card number. That’s a major red flag. Anytime someone calls you and demands a pre-paid gift card it is a scam.

Unfortunately, people are still falling for this trick.

“People are calling using the names of deputies and saying that people have failed to show up for their grand jury date, and they’re telling people that they have warrants for their arrests and they have to pay fines,” Mercer County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy A.P. Christian said last week.

One woman the scammers telephoned had been given a deputy’s name and the name of a circuit court judge, according to Christian.

However, it is important to remember that the sheriff’s department does not call people to ask for money. Christian said issues dealing with fines or warrants are handled in person and in court.

“We want to let the public know that we don’t call and request money, and that we don’t do our financial business in the shadows,” Christian added. “If they have a question or concern, all they have to do is come to the sheriff’s department.”

Such phone calls where people are threatened with arrest if they don’t purchase a pre-paid gift card to pay for an alleged fine is always a scam.

No real police agency is going to call you and ask for a pre-paid debit card.

Please don’t fall for this.

People who have been contacted by these scammers can call the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department at 304-487-8364 to report the scam call.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens

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