Someone has been pretending to be a sergeant with the Lake County Sheriff's Office to scam residents into buying gift cards and providing banking information under the guise of settling an arrest warrant, the office warned Monday.
The scammer, who falsely identifies himself as "Sgt. Bennett" or "Sgt. Michael Bennett" with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, has already duped several residents out of money, banking numbers and other sensitive information, according to a news release.
The sheriff's office does employ a Sgt. Michael Bennett, which has led some residents to trust in the legitimacy of the call, according to the release. The scammer also will often list off the victim's name and address, another tactic to convince people that the call is real.
In an audio recording of a voicemail received by a victim, the scammer says that he is calling in regards to "a very personal and urgent matter that does, should and will require immediate attention."
The scammer goes on to say that his call is in reference to a "legal matter" should be returned "as soon as possible," according to a copy of the call.
The scammer then tells would-be victims they have an active warrant out for their arrest, instructing them to buy gift cards and provide the gift card information over the phone to satisfy the warrant, according to the release. In some cases, other information such as social security numbers or banking information is also requested.
No government agency will ever call a resident to request money in the form of gift cards, the sheriff's office advised in the release. It warned residents to be suspicious of any unsolicited calls requesting money.
Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be a government agent should contact that agency directly to validate the legitimacy of the call, according to the release.
These incidents remain under investigation by the Lake County Sheriff's Office.