DUBLIN, OH (WCMH) – Tex Kuldas moved to a new house in Dublin just two weeks ago, so she was surprised when her new landline started ringing Tuesday afternoon.
The caller identified himself as “Lieutenant Wallace” from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and asked Kuldas, 51, why she missed jury duty on July 8.
“I said, ‘I didn’t know anything about it. I’m a little confused,’” Kuldas said.
The caller told Kuldas she needed to come to 373 South High Street immediately or she would be arrested on a warrant for missing jury duty. Kuldas said she was shaking while on the phone.
“I have never been in trouble and I don’t know what to do,” Kuldas said. “He sounded very official.”
The caller told her she owed nearly $1,500 in fines and ordered her to stay on the phone with him until she arrived at the address on South High Street, which is actually the address for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“He goes, ‘You need to stop at the bank, you need to get cash,’” Kuldas said. “I’m like, ‘Hold on.’ I said, ‘No, you just wait yourself a minute.’ So I called the sheriff’s department.”
Kuldas spoke to a dispatcher for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office while she had the caller on speakerphone. The dispatcher told her the man was a fraud and to hang up, although he continued to insist the sheriff’s office didn’t know what it was talking about.
“I really need people to know that this guy is doing this and he dang near got me,” Kuldas said.
NBC4’s Olivia Fecteau called the number back, and got a recording of a man saying “the sheriff’s office” was busy assisting other callers.
The Sheriff’s Office said it is aware of multiple reports of this scam, often with scammers telling people to meet them at a government building so it seems more legitimate.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Sheriff Zach Scott said, “No one from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will ever contact someone and demand that they pay a fine or face jail time. Have no doubt, check it out. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Call us with any questions on suspicious calls.”
The Sheriff’s Office offered tips for people who receive calls they believe might be scams. Those include:
– Don’t respond to messages or calls where the caller is telling to provide “sensitive information” and warning of “dire consequences” if you don’t do it.
– Don’t give out personal information (credit card numbers, bank account numbers, social security numbers) to someone you don’t know in response to a call or message, even if it seems like it could be legitimate.
– Get the name, phone number and address of any person you believe may be scamming you. However, the Sheriff’s Office said that scammers may give out fake information.
The Sheriff’s Office also urged people to call (614) 525-3333 if they are not sure whether a call is legitimate.