SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about someone impersonating a deputy as part of a recent scam.
Officials said the scam began with phone calls and the scammer is now approaching residents at home.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect is telling potential victims there’s a warrant for their arrest and it needs to be paid immediately.
It happened to one woman’s son, and now she’s out of $1,500.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” said Michelle, who asked 10 On Your Side not to use her full name or show her face.
Michelle said the scammer targeted her son at his home Monday morning.
The scammer knocked on the door, identifying himself as “Lt. Johnson” with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office.
With no peephole to look through, a family member inside spoke to the suspect through the door.
“They said they needed to speak to him and that she [the family member] needed to come outside,” Michelle said.
Michelle’s son wasn’t home, so the male eventually left. Not long after, the scammer called her son on his cell phone, saying he had an arrest warrant.
The alleged deputy told him he needed to purchase prepaid cards to pay fines or risk being jailed.
Michelle met her son and purchased the cards for him.
“I’ve never had a warrant, so I didn’t know how it was used or not used, so we were following directions,” she said.
We’re told the scammer called back after the transaction was finished. That’s when they realized it was a scam.
“He said ‘I got mine, now you don’t have yours,’ referring to the money,” Michelle said. “It was just like one more dig into the whole situation.”
Maj. David Miles with the sheriff’s office said the incident is concerning and frustrating.
“We worked very hard to build a relationship with our citizens and for someone to come along right now and take advantage of that relationship — it hits home for me,” Miles said.
He said law enforcement will never demand money on the spot for a warrant. Officials are urging the community to be vigilant.
“The first question that comes to mind is what if that person would’ve opened the door?” Miles said.
The sheriff’s office said there is no lieutenant employed there with the last name Johnson.
If you receive a call or visit from someone claiming to be a deputy and you have concerns, give the sheriff’s office a call at 757-514-7840 and they can help you verify if that person is legitimate.