Sherrif’s office warns of scam calls impersonating officer
HOULTON, Maine — The Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office is warning area residents of an uptick in telemarketing scams as the holidays draw near.
Sheriff Shawn Gillen said Thursday afternoon that his office has received several recent complaints from County residents who claim they were contacted by “Deputy Wayne Farley” from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Gillen, the caller claims that the victim missed jury duty in Caribou and that the person could spend the next three days in jail if they do not go to the store immediately and purchase two gift cards for $475, plus a $15 fee each, and bring the vouchers into the Sheriff’s Office.
Gillen said there is no such person on their staff.
“This one just came up, and fortunately our dispatchers were on the ball when people called about it,” Gillen said. “People need to realize if they are getting calls from law enforcement, any law enforcement, we do not ask for money, ever.”
Scam calls pop up more often than most people realize and tend to rise around the holidays. The calls are all the more worrisome for some residents if they have caller identification on their phones and the calling number shows up as Maine State Police Troop F barracks.
Gillen said this tactic, known as “spoofing,” has scammers mask their true phone number with one that the caller is more likely to recognize. Scammers also come armed with a wealth of personal information, such as the names of children, grandchildren or dates of birth, thanks to social media sites.
Scam calls can also have a variety of different premises to try to bilk people out of their money Gillen noted a couple in the Island Falls area was recently the target of a scam, with the caller stating to be a “bail bondsman” who had their son at the Aroostook County Jail.
“This person stated their son’s bail was $40,000 and he needed to be bailed out,” Gillen said. “The elderly couple were so convinced their son was in jail that this person probably would have gotten that money, had the bank not been closed.”
Elderly people are the most common targets. Gillen’s own mother has been targeted twice by scammers claiming to be a grandchild in jail.
There are a number of ways people can protect themselves, the sheriff stated.
“First, people really have to question and get all the fine details,” he said. “The IRS is never going to call you and ask for money. You will get a certified letter.”
He also encouraged anyone who does receive a phone call to never give any additional personal information over the phone. Gillen said the best course of action would be to hang up and then call a local law enforcement agency to ask for assistance.
Anyone who has questions is encouraged to call the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office at 207-532-3471 and ask to speak to a deputy sheriff about any concern.