April 30 2015

Scammers Impersonate Middlesex Sheriff in New Phone Scam

By: Rich Hosford

There is a phone scam being reported that has callers falsely identifying themselves as not only law enforcement, but as the sheriff himself. 

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office released a statement today that it has received more than 30 calls from individuals reporting having been contacted over the phone by men and women claiming to be with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and threatening arrest for failure to pay federal taxes. 

According to the release, a number of those who reported the calls said a male caller specifically identified himself as Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. 

“While we have been warning residents about these arrest scams for more than a year, this is by far the most calls we have ever received in one day,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Today, these scammers have taken this one step further by not just posing as our officers -- but now me -- in an effort to con individuals out of their hard-earned money. I want to assure the public that no legitimate law enforcement official will ever threaten arrest or demand payment for debt over the phone.” 

In each case reported to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, the scammers managed to spoof the office’s main telephone number, making it appear as though the calls were legitimate. None of those who contacted the sheriff’s office reported paying any money. 

“Receiving a call from someone claiming to be a member of law enforcement and demanding money can be a jarring experience. That is what these scammers are counting on,” Koutoujian said. “Fortunately, those who contacted us today had the presence of mind to ask good questions and recognize this as a scam.” 

Due to the nature of these scams, it is often impossible to trace phone calls or identify suspects, the sheriff’s office said. For that reason, the IRS, local police departments and sheriff’s office across the country have tried to educate the public about their prevalence and ways residents can protect themselves. 

Earlier this year, the Better Business Bureau rated arrest scams as the number one scam of 2014. Individuals receiving similar calls, or who think they may have lost money, are encouraged to contact their local police department. Calls in which scammers identify themselves as members of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office can be reported to the Sheriff's Investigations Unit at (978) 932-3220. 

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