Scam Warning: Beware of Officers Collecting Debt Via Phone and E-Mail
On the rare occasion my spam filter allows an e-mail through from a Nigerian prince who wants to send me $1 million, I chuckle for a moment. Then, I realize the reason these ridiculous e-mails are still in circulation isn't because they are funny, but because some poor suckers out there still fall for them. It is difficult to believe, but P.T. Barnum understood human nature perhaps better than most of us.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office is now warning of a new threat that could come via e-mail or phone. In this case, scammers impersonating law enforcement officers contact victims supposedly collecting debts. These jerks even try to intimidate victims by telling them they will be put in jail if they don't pay their debts -- last time I checked, the U.S. doesn't have debtor prisons anymore.
What makes this scam unbelievable is when the perp asks the victim to purchase a pre-paid gift card and send the card information to the scammer. Let's just stop right here. Who would actually believe this? Apparently, some poor gullible souls do and lose some hard earned cash in the process.
As you might imagine, the Sheriff's Office doesn't solicit or collect money for unpaid tickets, fees or anything else over the phone or through e-mail messages. If they want to collect, they'll just put a warrant on your ass or show up at your house. You'll realize there is a problem when you're being hauled out of the house in a bathrobe and handcuffs.
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They recommend you never give out personal information -- good idea -- and always get a call back phone number. I say have some fun with them. Ask them to tell you what they are wearing. Tell them you'll do it, but only if they talk to you in a Russian accent and say "I've been a very naughty boy." Make them jump through some hoops and then give them a used gift card you got for Christmas from Best Buy with no money left on it.
That will teach them for acting like idiots and trying to convince you that you are as dumb as they think you are.