Phone scam going around Johnson County asks citizens to pay a fine that doesn’t exist

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:33 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A phone scam is circulating in Johnson County that’s tricking callers into paying a fine that doesn’t exist. According to Sheriff Brad Kunkel, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has received many reports from people who’ve gotten a call from someone claiming to be an officer and demanding payment.

The part that’s convincing is the caller ID shows the call is originating from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. They claim the citizen has an outstanding warrant and demands payment over the phone. Sheriff Kunkel says law enforcement would never make a call and demand money in regards to such a fine.

One North Liberty man fell victim to the scam when he got a call saying he missed jury duty. The biggest red flag he noticed during the call was when the caller asked him to pay via a gift card or money order.

”I go you’re in Iowa City right now? And he said yep and rattled off the address. I said okay I’ll be there in 20 minutes and we can work this out. He said if you come down here without taking care of assurity, you’ll be arrested, handcuffed, and spend the night in jail. I said are you serious? For missing jury duty you’re going to put me in jail?” said Steve Sherman.

Sherman eventually hung up on the caller, called the Sheriff’s Office himself and they confirmed it was a scam.

Sheriff Kunkel talked about how these scammers are preying on people and getting them to pay by instilling a sense of urgency and fear.

”Law enforcement’s not going to ask you for payment by any means like that over the phone, but unfortunately what happens is they seem to target a lot of times seniors and create that sense of urgency that something bad is going to happen to them or a loved one,” said Sheriff Kunkel.

To seem legit, these callers have also been able to get ahold of the citizen’s name, address, and job.

He said if you’re ever questioning a phone call, hang up and call the sheriff’s office to relay the details. And never give out your financial information over the phone.

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