Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Issues November 2023 Scams Update

In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens, and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing their November 2023 Scams Update.

Deputies were informed today of a scam in which the victim received a call from someone named “Sgt. Dale Evans” who claimed to be with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. The called stated that the victim had a federal arrest warrant and that he needed to pay $4,500.00 into a Bitcoin ATM or he would be arrested.

The caller told the victim he would call back. The caller that spoofed the non-emergency line of the Sheriff’s Office and spoke with a “Captain Derrick Carr.” Due to the call from the official Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line, the victim complied with their request. The caller told them not to hang up so the “judge” would listen. The victim then deposited $4,500.00 into a Bitcoin ATM at a business.

“As we have stated previously, law enforcement agencies will not request money to either drop charges, have a warrant recalled or as a way to prevent arrest,” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office does not have employees by the names given to us by the victim. Also, any form of payment that seems unusual could be a very good sign that someone is trying to scam you.”

The Sheriff’s Office spoke with a victim who indicated that she had received a message that her computer was infected with a virus. The victim was instructed to call a phone number that was provided. The victim spoke with a man who told her that her computer contained porn and child sexual abuse material and that he would have to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report it. The victim was also told that the FBI would come to her residence to investigate.

The caller told the victim that he would call her bank and that her bank would be in touch in regards to her account. The victim then received a call from “the Fraud Department” who told her that the money in her account was not safe and that she needed to remove money from two separate accounts at two separate banks.

The victim withdrew money from accounts at two separate banks while the caller from the “Fraud Department” stayed on the phone with her. The victim was then instructed to deposit funds into Bitcoin machines at two separate locations. The victim was also instructed to go to two separate stores and purchase some gift cards.

After purchasing the gift cards, the victim provided the numbers on the gift cards via a text message to a number she was provided. The victim was defrauded out of approximately $23,200.00. The victim contacted one of the banks that she has an account with and was told that they had not called her. 

“If you receive a message on your computer saying your computer has been infected with a virus, we recommend that you turn off your computer and take it to a technology or computer business that can professionally clean your computer,” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “Also, as stated previously in this release, someone requesting that payment be made using gift cards or an unusual form of payment is a very good sign you are being scammed.”

“Scammers desire to create a sense of urgency in order for victim’s to make decisions or choices they may not make otherwise,” says Master Deputy Watt. “Obviously, being told that the FBI is going to investigate something can create a sense of panic. If possible, it is best to remain calm. If this scenario happens to you, hang up, contact your local law enforcement agency and take no action until you speak with an officer.”

The Sheriff’s Office spoke with a victim who stated that he and his wife received a call from someone they thought to be from Amazon. The caller asked if they had made a purchase in the amount of $1,400.00. The caller then forwarded the victim to someone claiming to be from the US Marshals service.

The person claiming to be from the US Marshals service said that there was a money laundering scheme occurring, that the victim’s accounts were affected and that the victim would have to send money via Bitcoin in order to fix the problem.

The victim went to two separate banks and withdrew almost $50,000.00. The person claiming to be from the Marshals service then told the victim to deposit the money in a Bitcoin machine, which the victim did. The victim also informed the Deputy that $81,000.00 had been stolen from a separate financial account, with the money being sent to an address in California.

“As stated previously in this release, any request for payment via an unusual form of payment can be a very good sign of a scam,” according to Master Deputy Watt. “Law enforcement will never recommend or request that a person send payment, in any form, to correct a potential problem that may arise with financial accounts. Law enforcement officers will recommend that a citizen contact their financial institutions in regards to any issue involving fraud but never recommend a form of payment to correct a problem.”