Phone scam returns to Clay County

Caller impersonates Clay County lieutenant, threatens jail time

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Francine Frazier - Senior web editor

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - A scam that plagued Clay County earlier this year has returned, threatening residents that they'll be arrested unless they fork over money.

In the last 24 hours, four cases have been reported in Clay County of residents receiving a call from a thief who is impersonating a police officer.

The scammer instructs the potential victims that to avoid being arrested, they have to go to a store, pick up a money card and wire it to an account immediately. The bogus reasons given range from missed jury duty to an outstanding warrant.

A similar scam happened earlier this year when investigators said a Georgia convict calling from jail claimed to be a Clay County Sheriff's Office lieutenant. He would threaten victims with arrest if they didn't pay hundreds with a money card.

Denise Cook recalled that story in the news, and that's how she knew the call she received this week was not legitimate.

Cook said the caller, who left a voicemail, claimed to be a lieutenant with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. She called the number back and was told there was a warrant for her arrest. Cook said she knew nothing about a warrant and was concerned the call was really the police, until the call continued.

"He continued talking, saying I signed a paper April 7 and was supposed to appear in court May 5," Cook said. "I was a little shocked, because I knew I didn't sign anything. Then he said there was a fine and fee, and when he said that I hung up immediately."

Cook said she was deeply concerned that the caller knew her first and last name, as well as her address. She immediately called the CCSO to report the incident.

"It was scary," Cook said. "It was creepy to know someone knows all that, and you just never know if they're going to show up at your house and try to do something."

The CCSO said residents who receive similar calls should make note of as much information as possible and report it to a local law enforcement agency.

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