By Caroline Enos/Salem News
The Essex County Sheriff’s Department is warning local residents to beware of scammers posing as deputies who request money to settle court warrants — a scam one man recently lost $12,000 over.
This is the eighth time in three years the department has been notified of scammers pretending to be deputies, department spokesperson Gretchen Grosky said. One scammer in 2020 even pretended to be Sheriff Kevin Coppinger.
“They’ve done that a couple of times,” Coppinger said. “They’ll say, ‘This is Sheriff Coppinger and we have a notice for your arrest, here’s a phone number or some type of avenue to send us money and we’ll take care of the warrant. Otherwise, we have a waiting room here for you at the jail.’ But nothing’s further from the truth.”
The Sheriff’s Department, along with other law enforcement offices, will never call someone to notify them of a warrant and certainly will not demand money over the phone, Coppinger said.
“We do have civil process servers and so somebody may show up at your house and leave a summons or something, but we’re not there to collect money at any time,” he said. “That’s done through the courts.”
If something sounds too good to be true, or hard to believe, listen to your gut, Coppinger said.
To verify if the person calling is who they say they are, take their name and phone number and look up that information to see if it matches before sending any money, he said.
People can also call the state’s Attorney General’s office at 617-727-8400 or their local police station if they think they’re getting scammed.
Scammers are especially active during the holidays, often posing as a grandchild and telling a senior they are stuck in jail and need money to get out. Scammers also might try to sell something over the phone or pretend to be an IT person looking to fix a computer.
“It’s just a quick way to get money,” Coppinger said. “The scam is very quick, they’ve got their dialogue down pat, and they’re very resourceful and very intimidating.”
The Sheriff’s Department works with local law enforcement and other agencies to teach people how to detect scams and stay safe. But it’s hard to catch scammers because they often aren’t calling from the same city, state or even country as where their victims live, Coppinger said.
If you would like to have members of the Sheriff Department’s Triad Team talk to your group about scams and how to protect yourself, email Assistant Superintendent Moe Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org.