Victims advised to report all telephone scams

COVINGTON — One woman in Covington didn’t fall for the tricks of a caller identifying himself as the Newton County lieutenant of the “Warrants Division for Jury Summons.”

With an increase in fraudulent calls being reported in Newton and Rockdale counties, more people are becoming aware of the scam and officers are encouraging everyone who receives a suspicious call to file a report.

Newton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Felicia Jefferson said the more reports and information compiled, the better chance of stopping the callers impersonating law enforcement.

“We’re trying to gather all the facts from each incident then compare to see if we can identify this caller,” Jefferson said. “Citizens need to be aware that our office will never call them for a warrant for an arrest and never ask for a payment over the phone.”

According to the incident report, the victim was told that her husband had failed to appear for jury duty and she needed to go buy a pre-paid bank card. Once she bought the card, she needed to call a number or else there would be a warrant for his arrest.

The woman suspected it was a scam and called NCSO to file a report.

Other Newton County residents have contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report receiving similar calls.

According to one incident report, a man received a phone call from a number identified as the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. The person told the victim that “he owed money for taxes and needed to pay several thousand dollars or he would be placed in jail,” the report states.

The would-be victim recognized this was a scam and did not send any money. Instead, he contacted the Sheriff’s Office.

Earlier this month, a woman from Covington said she received a phone call from a man claiming to be “Lt. Sims” with the Newton County Warrants Division. According to the incident report filed by the Sheriff’s Office, the number “Lt. Sims” called from was identified as “Newton County” and showed as 678-625-1400, which is the Sheriff’s Office main number.

The suspect told the woman that she had missed court with Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn the day before and had to pay “fines and restitution” in the amount of $349.

“The suspect instructed her to get a prepaid card for the amount listed and use the scratch-off number on the back and call him at (a different number),” the incident report states.

She, too, recognized it was a fraudulent call and contacted the Sheriff’s Office. A similar scam has also been happening using the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.

In April, one Newton County woman fell victim to the scam. She reported to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office that she, too, was contacted by someone telling her she had a warrant out of Rockdale County for not showing up for grand jury duty, according to the NCSO report.

“They stated, ‘don’t hang up the phone or your a— will be going to jail,’” the victim told the deputy.

She said she stayed on the phone while she withdrew about $2,700 from her bank and purchased Green Dot cards.

And she wasn’t the only one in Rockdale to receive a call like this.

According to the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office reports and comments from victims, the scammers used essentially the same script with each of them. The caller identified himself as either “Lt. John Martin” or “Capt. Larry Truitt.” The callers knew their would-be victims’ addresses and provided them phone numbers to call back. One potential victim said she called the number given, which was answered by a female who answered, “Sheriff’s Office, how can I help you,” the incident report states.

They told their victims that they had missed jury or grand jury duty a few weeks earlier and would have to pay a fine to avoid arrest. In at least one instance, the scammers told the victim that Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford would be issuing a warrant for her arrest if she didn’t pay the “fine.” They were all told to remain on the phone with the scammers until the transactions were completed.

Residents who receive these type of calls are encouraged to report the incident to either the Newton County or Rockdale County sheriff’s office.