Columbus citizens should think twice before paying fines to callers claiming employment at the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, according to a release posted to the department's Facebook.
The department reported Tuesday morning that a "high number of (Georgia) citizens" received calls from scam artists claiming employment at local law enforcement agencies, according to the release. Maj. Randy Robertson later confirmed that the calls originated in Gwinnett County.
"These scams usually start out small and by the time they get to us they could have been prevented if they had been reported earlier," Robertson said. "Sheriff (John) Darr was just trying to be proactive."
The scammers tell the potential victim that they can avoid incarceration for an unpaid fine or missed jury summons using a prepaid debit card over the phone. Officials say the callers are highly convincing and have extensive knowledge of how the local law enforcement agency they are impersonating operates.
Robertson said citizens who get calls from persons claiming employment at the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office can call the department's number and verify independently.
Law enforcement agencies do not solicit payment of fines through telephone, according to the release. Citizens who receive such calls should contact the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office at 706-653-4225.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Columbus citizens have reported scam calls. The reports originated in Gwinnett County, Muscogee County Sheriff's Office officials confirmed.