CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning citizens about a telephone scam in which a person receives a call alleging there is a warrant out for his or her arrest, but the charges will be dismissed if the person pays a fine over the phone.

Morrisey said his office's Consumer Protection Division has received reports from residents who have been contacted by someone who alleges to be from the county sheriff’s department or other law enforcement agency.

The “officer” generally asks for a fine to be paid with a pre-paid debit card in exchange for dropping the charges.

“These scammers can be very convincing, especially if they provide you with a name and a phony badge number,” Morrisey said in a press release. “They often tell their victims they have missed jury duty service or they’ve defaulted on a loan, and count on their victim to react without thinking.”

To make the scam more believable, these calls often will be made to appear as if they are coming from a local law enforcement agency. Additionally, the scammers sometimes provide the name of a judge in the area who supposedly will sign the arrest warrant if the caller doesn’t comply with the demand for immediate payment.

“No law enforcement agency will make initial contact with you over the phone to collect a fine, and they especially won’t demand payment with a pre-paid debit card,” Morrisey said. “They will not serve you with a warrant by telephone either, so it’s important that you remain calm if you receive a call like this.

"Take note of the number on Caller ID, get as much information from the caller as you can, and then hang up and call your local law enforcement.”

Morrisey's office asks those who have received one of these phone calls to notify your local law enforcement agencies and then call the AG's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.

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