Following calls to his office, Wayne County Sheriff Chris Rosler issued a statement on June 1 warning the public of a telephone scam working its way around Wayne County.Residents receive calls from someone identifying themselves as an employee in the Sheriff’s Office or as Sheriff Rosler himself. The caller then states they are processing paperwork for a warrant to arrest the victim.So far, Rosler’s office has received two complaints via phone and a host of comments on Facebook regarding individuals who have been affected by one of these scam calls.”They say this guy is convincing,” said Rosler of the reports he’s received. He noted the scammer speaks with an accent, and their message doesn’t ask for money, but requests the person called call them back. Rosler dialed the scammer’s number and was sent to a voicemail which stated it was the Sheriff Office.”Lackawanna County’s Sheriff Mark McAndrew warned of a similar scam making rounds in February. Media reports at the time note one individual was scammed out of $7,000.”It comes in spurts,” said McAndrew in a follow-up interview. “They hit hard for a while then it slows down. But it’s always prevalent.”Monroe County Sheriff Ken Morris said his office has experienced similar trends dating back to 2019, with a surge of several calls coming in this week. He explained scammers will call posing as the sheriff or a deputy threatening between seven and 14 days’ arrest for missing jury duty. Initially, the scammer would request gift cards as payment, but lately they’ve been utilizing online payment apps like Venmo, said Morris.”Please don’t pay these people. If you have questions, please contact our office,” said Morris, explaining that if a Sheriff is charged with issuing an arrest, they will arrest the individual. They don’t accept money as a means of getting out of it. Moreover, he explained if someone misses a jury summons, the jury administrators will send a notification via certified mail, not phone.Pike County Sheriff Kerry Welsh added that, in collecting fees, “We don’t accept gift cards,” reminding residents that if someone is asking for gift cards as payment, they are not doing so as part of a sheriff office. “Whenever you get these calls, look the number up and make sure they are who they say they are,” he said.Catching the scammer is difficult because the number from which they call can change as they need it to to avoid detection. “The only way to shut them down is to educate people,” said McAndrew.Attesting to the scam’s degree of impersonation, McAndrew further explained the scammers would grab information from the department’s page on Lackawanna County’s website to pose believably as a Deputy Sheriff.The Hawley Police Department has also been subject to a similar impersonation scam. Even the Honesdale Pennsylvania State Police Barracks was impersonated in a scam. PSP stated on May 20 a scammer identifying themselves as “Lt. Johnson of the PA State Police” threatened victims with arrest for being “in contempt of court for jury duty” and “violations of Megan’s Law,” before demanding gift cards and large monetary sums be sent to “the terminal at the barracks.”Echoing the sheriffs’ sentiments, PSP informed citizens that “The PA State Police and/or other law enforcement agencies will never solicit money over the phone.” They advise never giving personal information or money to these scammers.Rosler stated the Sheriff’s office “does not call our wanted people for safety reasons.” The sheriff or his deputies will travel to one’s home to deliver civil paperwork. If no one is home, they will leave a business card. Additionally, Rosler reminded residents the phone number for the Wayne County Sheriff is 570-253-2641.McAndrew likewise stated, “Any legitimate sheriff office doesn’t conduct business over the phone.” They will contact people in person or via certified mail. The best thing to do is “just hang up,” McAndrew added, explaining the scammer is counting on causing fear or panic to manipulate the person they call into doing what they want.Rosler asks anyone in Wayne County receiving a suspicious call from a sheriff impersonator hang up and block the number. One can also report the scam call to the Wayne County Sheriff Office by calling 570-253-2641.Those in other counties can report incidents to their officials at the following numbers:
- Pike County—Sheriff Kerry Welsh, 570-296-6459.
- Lackawanna County—Sheriff Mark McAndrew, 570-963-6719.
- Monroe County—Sheriff Ken Morris, 570-517-3312
David Mazzenga covers vulnerable populations and public safety in the northern Poconos and is based at the Tri-County Independent. Reach him by emailing email@example.com.