Sheriff warns of phone scam
Callers pretend to be deputies, Bono says
COURTHOUSE — One Montgomery County couple has been bilked out of $600 from a new phone scam in which callers pretend to be deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and tell victims if they do not pay, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
Montgomery County Sheriff Russell Bono explained Friday that any warrant the sheriff’s department serves has been signed by a judge, and deputies do not threaten to arrest anyone who does not pay.
“We would never ask or threaten anyone with arrest for money,” Bono said.
The scammers have even gone as far as creating a fake voice mail that mimics the voicemail of the warrants division of the sheriff’s department. The fake voicemail has been captured and recorded by the sheriff’s department and can be heard at http:// www.montcopa.org/DocumentCenter/View/7839.
“The number and the message the scammers are obviously using is not the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department,” Bono said in his office on Friday.
Bono said earlier in the week an elderly couple from Washington, D.C., received the call and drove up to the courthouse in Norristown out of concern they were going to be arrested.
“We’ve also received a call from residents of Texas, so this is a national scam,” Bono said.
In July, Bono told The Times Herald he heard of similar scams concerning neighboring counties but said it had not yet reached Montgomery County.
Residents will receive a call from someone who claims to be a sheriff’s deputy working in the warrants division of the department. The caller will tell the person they are trying to scam that they need to purchase a Green Dot debit card and call back with the numbers on the card. Once the scammer has the card’s number, he or she is able to get the money taken off of the card.
“Aside from the monetary loss, it erodes confidence in the sheriff’s department and that’s what bothers me the most,” Bono said.
Bono said someone in law enforcement would quickly recognize it as a scam; however, people who aren’t familiar with how law enforcement works become concerned.
The Montgomery County Detective Bureau is presently investigating the scam, though Bono said it will be difficult to track down the scammers.
“It’s just a matter of almost a stroke of luck is going to have to happen,” he said. “If there is, some- how we can tie that to whoever that phone number is registered to or who’s paying for that phone number, that’s where the investigation would become fruitful.”
Anyone with any information or who feels they may have been victimized by the scam is asked to call the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department at 610-278-3331. their nose into the state business to begin with. If they want to stick their nose into our state business, be concerned about, oh, Black Panthers dressed in garb with batons at polling places. That’s what they ought to be concerned about, not a reasonable and fair physical fitness test for state police.”
Several women who took the test seemed to agree with Giordano, saying they were able to pass the test, including one female police officer.
“I thought it was pretty good, pretty easy,” said Kim Hideleburg, 49, an officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, before adding police officers should be able to pass the test. “… Especially when you’re out there on the streets with all the challenges and stuff, you should be able to at least run a mile and do pushups. That’s upper body strength. You should be able to do everything in here … There’s just as many strong women out here as men. And I’m one of them.”
Several members of Strong Women In Fitness Together, or SWIFT, said they enjoyed the challenge of the test.
“I think it was really amazing to see how well the women in our club did,” said the group’s cofounder, Kara Silverman, 38, of Glenside. “And to know that most of us, I think, could become police officers if we wanted to. I think that it’s an important event today just to show how women are.”
Silverman called the lawsuit ridiculous and said it was important to encourage people to be healthy.
“I think it’s important for law enforcement to be strong,” she said, “so they can protect us.”
Lori Hager, 26, of North Wales, said that while the 300 meter run was a little tough, overall she was able to get through the test.
“I think it’s ridiculous that someone would sue somebody that’s trying to protect you and needs to be fit to protect you,” she said of the lawsuit. “Honestly, I don’t exercise everyday and I found it to be a piece of cake.”
Follow Eric Devlin on Twitter @Eric_Devlin.