VALDOSTA — Scammers are at work again, calling Lowndes County residents and trying to get money out of people with false claims of legal trouble, the Lowndes County sheriff said.
The problem erupted Tuesday with "six or eight" calls to the sheriff's office claiming "deputies" had reached out by phone and told people they were in trouble with the law and needed to pay money to get out of it, Sheriff Ashley Paulk said.
The scammers are calling and claiming their victims missed jury duty or had a warrant against them and could make the problems go away by paying a "fine" via Green Dot prepaid debit cards, he said.
The callers are "spoofing" the sheriff's office's main phone number; it appears on phone screens instead of the real number the scammers are calling from, the sheriff said.
The phony deputies are also using the names of two real Lowndes County Sheriff's Office employees, "Mulbaney" and "Griffin," Paulk said.
"The real Mulbaney and Griffin are not involved with this at all," the sheriff said.
Paulk wants the public to remember the sheriff's office only handles warrants and similar matters in person, never by phone.
"If you don't see a deputy in front of you, you're not talking to a real deputy," he said.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.