COVINGTON -- Another victim has been added to the list of those defrauded by someone impersonating an officer of the Newton County Sheriff's Office or the Newton County Judicial System.
The latest victim was a 61-year-old woman who was phoned at her home Tuesday by a caller who identified himself by using the name Capt. Doug Kitchens with the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
"He told her she had failed to appear in court on a traffic charge and that she had run a red light and it was caught on camera," said NCSO Capt. Keith Crum. "He told her a ticket had been mailed to her address and she had not paid it."
The caller went on to tell the woman that she needed to go to Walmart and buy a Green Dot Card to pay fines and court costs amounting to $363 and give him the number to keep from having a bench warrant issued for her arrest.
She said she followed instructions for fear of going to jail.
"The Sheriff's Office is working diligently trying to solve this case and to identify this suspect. We haven't been able to do so as of this date," Crum said. "We do not have cameras set out at intersections, nor would we ever call someone up and tell them to buy a Green Dot Card. Any court fines would be paid at the courthouse. This is a complete scam and fraud. We want to make sure the public is aware that this is a criminal scheme."
The NCSO issued a press release last week warning citizens of the scam. Investigators believe the caller is using the telephone directory and calling people at random.
Some reports from victims have stated that the caller has used the names of Newton County judges and given them a court date to appear at the Newton County Judicial Center.
"We think it is someone who has been through the court system here in Newton County," Crum said, but no specific leads have been generated.
Crum said he would urge anyone who thinks they may know who this person is to contact them at 678-625-1400 or call 678-625-5007 and remain anonymous. Also, information can be left on the web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org by clicking on Anonymous Tips.
"Any information will be greatly appreciated," he said.
He said that many of the victims have said that fear of arrest is what motivated them to pay what the caller asked.
"An arrest would never occur under these circumstances," he reiterated. "It's a total fraud. The system they're describing doesn't exist."
Should a citizen receive a call similar to what is described here, they should hang up and call 911 to report it immediately. If caller ID is available, capture the number.