Authorities say scammers are using names of local law enforcement officers to steal money from area residents.
Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Investigator Sgt. Zach McBride said scammers are calling people claiming to be Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Easterling, and that the callers owe money for not showing up in court.
“It was reported that the caller told them that this message was regarding an important message about an ongoing matter,” McBride said. “When the complainants called the phone number back, one with an area code that was not ‘830,’ they were told that they owed money for failing to appear as a witness in court.”
The person on the other end of the phone instructed them to take the money to the sheriff’s office or they would face criminal charges, McBride said.
Some of the residents went to the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office with money, however no money exchanged hands, he said.
“This incident is a failed scam attempt,” McBride said. “Sgt. Paul Easterling is a deputy sheriff assigned to the patrol division, but he did not make these calls. Sgt. Easterling’s duties as assigned to patrol do not include contacting anyone to pay a fee or fine.”
McBride said law enforcement officers typically don’t call and ask anyone to pay them for fees, warrants or other fines.
One way residents can spot a fraudulent call from a scammer claiming to be a sheriff’s deputy is by the area code, McBride said.
In this case, the calls did not come from numbers with 830 as the area code.
“All official calls from the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office have an 830 area code,” McBride said.
Scammers will also ask for payment through untraceable means including Green Dot, Amazon, iTunes or other gift cards.
“Do not comply with this as once the numbers are transferred, the money on the cards is untraceable and will not be retrievable,” he said. “Bank wires, Western Union, Money Gram and other money transfer services have also been used to defraud those who were unaware they were being scammed.”
If residents suspect a person calling them is not a deputy or investigator, McBride said they can call the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office at 830-379-1224 or 830-303-5241 to verify.