Sher­iff warns of phone scam

Call­ers pre­tend to be deputies, Bono says

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By DAN CLARK

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.mont­­u­men­tCen­ter/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.


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