INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is warning people after seeing an uptick in reports about police impersonation scams.

The office said it is hearing from court staff saying they are seeing a dramatic uptick in the number of calls to their office from people who have been recently scammed. They are trying to get the word out to prevent more people from falling victim to a scam.

The Better Business Bureau says one of the most common scams in the U.S. involves people pretending to be government officials. In some cases, the caller claims to be law enforcement and threatens legal consequences in order to swindle money out of the potential victim.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they are hearing about scams involving callers claiming they are a sheriff’s deputy and telling the victim that they missed jury duty, have a warrant out for their arrest, and must pay a certain dollar amount to resolve the matter.

“These swindlers are the lowest of the low,” said Sheriff Forestal. “They steal the identity of real deputies and can even make it look like they are calling from our official telephone number. What is worse is that they often prey upon our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly.”

So far in 2022, the Federal Trade Commission received 990 reports of police, sheriff, or FBI imposter scams nationwide. These scams resulted in a total of $5.64 million in losses, an average loss of $2,500.

Locally, the Better Business Bureau reports getting six reports so far this year about government agency imposters, no money was lost so far. Nationally, the BBB reports 367 reports, with people losing a total of $65,206.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office reminds people that they will never call citizens about jury duty or about outstanding criminal warrants. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office added that no potential juror will be charged with any crime in the event that they miss their scheduled duty, and potential jurors will be contacted via U.S. postal mail rather than telephone or email.

If a caller insists on being paid, especially in cash, gift cards, or digital currency like Bitcoin, it is certainly a shakedown. If you get one of these calls, hang up.

You can report it through several methods including:

  • IRS: The Internal Revenue Service advises people to fill out the “IRS Impersonation Scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Impersonation’s website, tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.
  • Social Security: The Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration (SSA IG) has its own online form to take complaints about frauds impersonating the SSA.
  • Federal Trade Commission: 877-FTC Help or ftc.gov.
  • Internet Crime Complaint Centerhttps://www.ic3.gov/complaint/splash.aspx
  • Contact your cellphone carrier, which may offer free services such as scam call identification and blocking, ID monitoring, a second phone number to give out to businesses so you can use your main number for close friends or a new number if you get too many spam calls.
  • File a report with BBB Scam Tracker.