Jun. 19—Frederick County law enforcement officials are warning residents not to fall for a scam they say is spreading locally, in which a caller impersonating a police officer threatens that they'll be arrested unless they pay the caller money.
The scam is "growing exponentially" in the month of June, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said at a press conference Friday.
The scam involves someone calling county residents from what appears to be a county government phone number and using the name of actual sheriff's office investigators, Jenkins said. The caller tells the victim that there's a warrant for them or someone in their family, and that deputies or other police officers will be there to arrest them shortly if they don't pay.
The caller instructs the person to pay to have the warrant canceled with gift cards or green dot cards, and instructs them how to do this.
Earlier this week, a young nurse practitioner came to the Law Enforcement Center and filed a report, saying she paid approximately $12,000 to the scammers, according to a news release.
No legitimate law enforcement officer will demand money to settle an arrest warrant, or notify people when they're coming to arrest them, Jenkins said.
The sheriff's office will send a deputy in uniform or with a badge and appropriate identification to someone's home, or occasionally their job if they can't locate them at home, with a copy of the arrest warrant to make an arrest, he said.
Sgt. Richard Kulina of the Maryland State Police said his agency also would not call and ask for money to resolve a warrant.
In the calls state police have handled, he said victims said the caller seems to have an American accent, and doesn't appear to be from overseas.
The sheriff's office has been receiving more than 10 calls or in-person visits a day about the scam.
Jenkins said they don't know if the caller is using county phones to make the calls, or just making it appear the calls are coming from county numbers.
"This is one of the problems with all that technology out there," he said.
He advised anyone who receives a call to try and write down or remember as much information and detail as they can so they can report it to police.
Jenkins vowed his department and other law enforcement agencies will work the cases until they are solved.
"If we identify who this is, we're going to charge them with everything we can," he said. "We're going to throw the book at them."
Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP