December 13, 2016


Investigators with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office have received complaints from victims of a telephone financial scam which appears to be increasing over the past several days. The victims report that they received a voicemail from someone claiming to be a Florence County Deputy (in one case the name “Deputy Sutton” was used) advising them that they failed to report for jury duty as summoned and that a bench warrant for their arrest has been issued. The message continues by stating that the warrant can be withdrawn if the victim will pay a $500.00 fine, and then instructs the victim to call (843)773-9869 to avoid arrest. When the victims call the number they hear a legitimate sounding voicemail message stating that “You have reached the Florence County Sheriff’s Department; if this is an emergency, please hang up now and dial 911.” The message goes on to prompt the caller to press “2” for the “Jury Services Unit” (there is no such unit) where they are further instructed to leave their name and phone number so that a deputy can call them back.

When the fake deputy calls back he tells the victim that to avoid arrest they are to proceed to a local pharmacy to purchase a Money Pac Card or gift card for $500.00 and to provide the card number and security PIN to the deputy to verify the purchase. The victim is then instructed to bring the card to the Law Enforcement Center in Effingham and deposit it into the kiosk in the lobby to complete the payment of the fine. At this point the scam is complete, the money is gone and the fake deputy will hang up.

This is not the first time this or a similar scenario has been used by scammers to separate the unwary from their money. To be clear, no one from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office will ever call you and demand money to resolve a criminal charge or an outstanding warrant. If you receive such a message, it is a scam. We are not a collection agency for the court and you cannot avoid arrest by using a gift or credit card to pay a fine.

These scammers tend to prey on the elderly, the vulnerable and the trusting. Our investigators work closely with other state and federal partners to try to track these scammers, but nearly all such calls originate outside the Unites States, even if the number appears to be local. Unfortunately, the callback numbers are almost impossible to track or trace and once the scam is completed, there is little law enforcement can do. The best way to protect yourself is simply hang up. If you have any doubts about the legitimate nature of such a call, contact the Sheriff’s Office at our published number (843) 665-2121and you will be directed to an appropriate person.

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