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Two York County Detention Center officers and a 51-year-old Rock Hill woman all received threats from a phone scammer who knew where they lived, where they worked and how much money they had at their disposal, deputies say.
Those three, all residents of the county, were among the four people officials say have reported falling prey to a phone scam in which someone posing as either a bill collector or police officer threatened to have them fired or arrested if they didnt send them money.
Now, the York County Sheriffs Office and Rock Hill Police Department are warning residents to stay alert if anyone calls them claiming they owe money to the sheriffs office or other agencies and will face consequences if they dont send it.
On Monday, a Rock Hill woman told deputies that she has been receiving numerous calls from a man trying to collect money from her.
In his most recent attempt, the man claimed to be Adam Smith, an officer with the Rock Hill Police Department, according to a York County Sheriffs report.
He said that if she didnt send money she owed to a company, she would be arrested within two hours.
Lt. Brad Redfearn of the Rock Hill Police Department said Wednesday that there isnt a Rock Hill police officer or department employee named Adam Smith.
The number that appeared on the womans caller ID, which a Sheriffs report states appears as the Rock Hill Police Departments phone number, is fake masked by technology that converts outgoing numbers into another number, said Chris Bomar, detective with the York County Sheriffs Offices Internet Crimes Against Children unit.
Most of the cases we have come across ... have come from overseas, Bomar said, adding that officials arent sure if the newest set of scammers are local or foreign.
The con artists all use intimidation tactics to convince a victim to give over their credit card number, Bomar said. Then, theyll begin deducting money from that account. Sometimes, they ask for victims to wire money.
Whether you pay it or dont pay it, theyll continue to harass you, Bomar said.
Theyre also thorough, known to use public records databases to gather as much information on an intended target as they can.
Weve had instances where theyve known where people shopped, Bomar said.
It makes you think theyre close by, watching.
Using Google Maps or black-market software, they can track a persons location geographically, find their landline phone number and make the call. Efforts to trace calls for landlines or block the numbers are pricey, Bomar said.
Recently, a detention center officer received numerous calls from a bill collector who threatened to call his supervisor and have him fired if he didnt send him money. Another detention center officer and a court official have received similar calls, Bomar said.
They just harass, harass, harass, knowing full well that no one can find them and service some type of criminal action against them, he said.
Theyll make up some kind of bogus claim, Hey, Im with this certain agency ... you owe these many fines ... you need to send us the money now or youll be in trouble with the law.
An officer is not going to attempt to collect a debt, Redfearn said. Thats a civil matter, not a criminal matter.
Efforts to curb scamming, Bomar said, are tricky.
When officials manage to track the scammers, they notify law enforcement in the scammers native country and, if police there have laws that govern phone scamming, turn the case over to them, Bomar said.
It doesnt seem to appear that theres a certain person they victimize, he said. It used to be that they would target one type of age group, but now its a widespread problem. Right now, theyre looking for anybody to send money.
If they get one out of 200, theyve got the money.