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Sheriff's office warns of phone scam involving those on sex offender registry

Posted at 1:14 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 13:14:41-04

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — The Ionia County Sheriff is warning residents on Wednesday about an impersonation phone scam.

They are reporting that the scam surfaced a few weeks ago and involves a caller claiming to be a police officer or deputy, and then tells them to go out and buy a pre-paid gift card to pay off a bond on a warrant.

And if they don't do what the caller is instructing, they are told they will be arrested.

However, the sheriff's office is reporting that those being targeted now are residents on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, and they are being told that they have violated terms of their agreement and will be arrested.

The callers are arming themselves with knowledge such as court document numbers, and asking the victims to provide a DNA sample if they are non-compliant. These tactics are tricking those getting the calls into following through with the threat and purchasing the gift cards.

Residents should also be aware that the scammers are using real names of Ionia County Sheriff's Office members, often claiming they are Dt/Sergeant Phillip Hesche.

They say the calls are originating from overseas but they are using a number that appears to be local.

Those receiving calls are even told that the reception is poor because police use satellite phones, according to the Sheriff's office.

"No law enforcement agency will ever take bond money by phone by credit/debit card or via any sort of pre-paid gift card, iTunes gift card, Green-Dot, or Moneygram," Sergeant Phillip Hesche said.

"If you receive such a call, and suspect that call to be a scam, hang up and call your local police agency to verify that no call was placed by them."

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