October 1, 2015


The Florence County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls and complaints regarding telephone scams designed to separate you from your money. While the scams in the past have taken on a variety of forms and methods, the latest scam goes something like this:

The caller identifies himself as an investigator or examiner with the United States Government, possibly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicating that you have either defaulted on some payment, or that you owe a substantial amount of back taxes, and that if you do not pay immediately, like right now, law enforcement, specifically the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, will be coming to take you to jail. But you can prevent all that inconvenience and embarrassment by paying the amount on your credit card or loading a gift card with the amount owed and providing the PIN number. You may also be asked to confirm your identity by providing your bank account information or Social Security number.

Another scam recently involved an alleged call from the Warrants Division of FCSO indicating that there was a warrant for failure to appear for jury service, and if a fine was not immediately paid using a credit card or gift card, deputies would show up and take person called to jail.


First of all, the government, FCSO and especially the IRS are not likely to contact you out of the blue about an overdue account or a tax dispute over the telephone, and even if they do, you are not likely going to resolve the dispute over the telephone with a credit card or a gift card. And finally, rest assured that the Florence County Sheriff’s Office is not coming to take you to jail based on a financial dispute with the government. If you receive any such call making these or similar claims, it is a scam.

The most recent rash of calls comes from telephone number (425) 678-3621 out of Mount Lake, Washington, although this number is certainly not traceable to that location. In reality, the scammers can be calling from virtually any number, anywhere, even one that appears local. The calls almost never originate from the number shown on “caller ID” and even though it may show a local area code or location, the call is probably made from somewhere outside the United States. Our Investigators, who work closely with other law enforcement agencies and the Federal government in attempting to stop these scams, tell us that tracking the caller is virtually impossible.

While no one seems to be immune to these calls, the scammers seem to target the elderly, exploiting their genuine sense of pride in not owing any debts and trust of what people tell them, especially if the caller claims some lawful authority. To make matters even worse, an elderly or vulnerable victim will be reluctant or embarrassed to report to loved ones that they have been scammed for fear of forced changes in life style, especially if they have been victimized more than once. One thing is sure; if you ever fall for this scam once, you will be routinely contacted with similar calls. Unfortunately, far too many fall for the scam and send large sums of money to the crooks, only to be severely disappointed when the claims turn out to be false.

FCSO suggests that the best course of action upon receiving such a call is simply to hang up. The government has other ways to reach you than over the phone if there is a legitimate problem with money owed or your taxes. If you receive the message on voice mail, do not return the call. And finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER provide financial information, personal information or attempt to pay any claimed debt by way of credit card, prepaid credit card or loaded gift card over the telephone. Don’t be a victim of the scammers.


Major Michael M. Nunn
General Counsel/P.I.O.