PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) — Local law enforcement is warning residents of an uptick in phone scams in Blair, Centre and Cambria counties.
The Blair County Sheriff’s office said they’ve received reports of residents being called by a man claiming to be “Sheriff Ott” as well as someone claiming to be with “Homeland Security.”
The actors allegedly claim to be investigating credit card misuse and illegally buying drugs overseas. The caller will give a case number and the person’s personal information, making it seem legitimate.
The caller(s) are known to be “spoofing” (disguising) their number as the Blair County Sheriff’s phone number on caller ID, the sheriff’s office said.
This scam has callers telling people they need to buy gift cards and take them to the courthouse while remaining on the phone with them.
Ebensburg Borough police warned residents of the ‘grandchild in jail’ scam.
This scam, which usually targets older residents, warns that a person’s family member, likely a grandchild, is in jail and needs money to pay their bail or fine.
Recently, two men from Las Vegas were sentenced in federal court in Pittsburgh for this exact scam. One of the men even went to people’s homes and acted as the “courier” to collect the “bail” money.
Ebensburgh Police went on to encourage anyone who might question any similar phone calls to reach out to a trusted family member, or to local law enforcement.
The Centre County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a ‘jury duty’ scam.
The sheriff’s office said they’ve taken a number of calls from multiple people about the scam. Many said the scammers claimed to be members of the sheriff’s office.
The scam goes on to threaten residents with being arrested for missing jury duty and they need to pay a specific amount to take care of the warrant.
While payment info wasn’t specified by the sheriff’s office, many of these scams will often require payment via gift cards, but others will ask for your banking information in hopes of draining your checking accounts.
As a reminder, if you feel you’re being scammed, you can hang up and call whoever you thought you were on the phone with. For example, if you think you’re in trouble with the law, hang up and call your local law enforcement agency and they’ll be able to help and tell you if they were trying to contact you.