RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Russell County Sheriff’s Office is warning about a new twist on an old scam making the rounds in Russell County. This scam uses an automated phone system claiming to be the sheriff’s office non-emergency line, which sounds very authentic, according to Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.
The phone number used in this instance is 334-408-3638, so it looks like a local number. Other similar phone numbers may be used in the future or might have been used in the past.
Sheriff Taylor said the sheriff’s office has had multiple people call to report the scam, with four reports today alone.
“If you get any kind of call like this. Hang up. Call my office. If there’s a warrant we will talk to you over the phone. Most of this is absolutely false. It’s not most. All of it. These numbers are not our office numbers,” said Sheriff Taylor.
The scammers are targeting residents by calling them and telling them they have missed a court appearance or jury duty. They need to call the number above or a similar one to pay a fine or they will be arrested.
When potential victims call the number, they reach an automated voice that sounds very authentic. The automated system answers, “This is the Russell County Sheriff’s Department non-emergency line,” then provides several options, one of which connects the caller to an individual who claims to be a lieutenant with the Russell County Sheriff’s Office.
Potential victims are being told they need to go to the store and buy a Green Dot card to pay the fine.
Sheriff Taylor said the sheriff’s office will never, under any circumstances ask anyone to use a Green Dot card to pay a fine.
“We don’t ask anybody to pay over the phone with a Green Dot card for any type of criminal fine or anything like that,’ said Sheriff Taylor. “We just don’t do it, it’s not the way the system works.”
When WRBL called the number on Tuesday afternoon, we spoke to an individual identifying himself as a lieutenant with the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, when we told him we were calling from a television station, the individual promptly disconnected the call.
As of publishing this story, the number used by these scammers has been disconnected, but Sheriff Taylor warns everyone to be cautious and not fall for scams like these. If you have questions about fines you might owe, just call the sheriff’s office to verify. Also, never give out personal information about yourself, including banking or credit card account information, birthdate, or other information that can be used by criminals to steal from you.
If you have missed a court appearance of some kind, Sheriff Taylor said a notice from the court in the mail.
According to Sheriff Taylor, if you do have a fine, typically things such a traffic citations can be paid through Alacourt, or you can pay in person at the Russell County Courthouse with cash, check, money order, credit card or other acceptable payment methods.
Anyone who receives a phone call like this should call the Russell County Sheriff’s Office at (334) 298-6535 to report it.