Authorities are warning Lake County residents that a scammer, who is impersonating a police officer, has been calling residents and threatening them with fake warrants in order to steal money.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said they are investigating several deceptive practices and impersonating a peace officer cases in the county.
The offender is calling Lake County residents pretending to be a police officer. He is identifying himself as “Sergeant Michael Cope” and informing the callers they have an active warrant for their arrest.
The scammer provides the victim with the victim’s name and address, making the victim feel that the caller is a police officer, according to Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli.
Covelli said this is similar to a previous scam where an offender was pretending to be “Sergeant Bennett” with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
The new cases involve the suspect ‘spoofing’ their caller identification number to make it appear they are actually calling from inside the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
The scammer orders the victim to purchase gift cards and provide the gift card numbers and pins to the scammer in order to satisfy the warrant.
The scammer has also asked victims for their social security numbers, banking information and other sensitive information.
“These types of scams are becoming more and more common, where scammers impersonate members of local law enforcement or a government agency to prey on their victims,” Covelli said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reminds the community that the government will never call and order them to pay money in the form of gift cards.
“If you receive an unsolicited call from anyone requesting money, you should be suspicious. If a person claims to be a government agency, call that government agency first to determine the validity of the call, before discussing anything,” Covelli said.
The sheriff’s office has released audio of a scammer on a victim’s voicemail.
Anyone who has been the victim of this scam is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.