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Scammer bilks local business owner

WINDSOR – A local business owner was the victim of a scam last week.

Bertie County Sheriff John Holley said several businesses were contacted by phone on Friday, Feb. 19 regarding alleged court violations.

“Unfortunately, one of those business owners fell for the scam and lost a couple of thousand dollars in the process,” Holley said.

Holley said the scammer posed as an officer with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office.

“The victim was told they had a contempt order against them for failing to show for a date in federal court,” Holley said. “The victim was then told they would be placed in jail unless they could pay to have the contempt order settled.”

At that point, Holley said the victim agreed to pay and was advised to remain on the phone until the entire process was completed.

“The victim was told to go purchase some type of gift cards or pre-loaded debit cards at a nearby store,” Holley said. “They were advised to mail those cards to the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office, but first give the caller the number on the cards, claiming they needed that information for verification.

“Once the caller has the numbers on the cards, they’ve got all the information they need to complete the scam,” Holley added. “It doesn’t matter if you mail the cards or not because they’re worthless at that point as the money has already been moved off those cards.”

Holley offered advice for local businesses and citizens that will help them avoid being the victim of a similar scam.

“In criminal or civil cases, a law enforcement agency will not call you on the phone, nor will we demand payments of any type over the phone or threaten to lock you up,” he stressed. “If we have a contempt order, a criminal summons, or an arrest warrant with your name on it, we will serve it on you in person.

“Better yet, if you receive such a call and want to make sure it’s legitimate, hang up and call the law enforcement agency the caller claims to be representing and check with them if there are any outstanding warrants or orders in your name,” Holley added.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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