Your phone rings and someone says, "This is the Belmont County Sheriff's Department."
You might tend to believe them, until they say you owe them $10,000 in fines.
It happened to a Martins Ferry resident. "They said they owed this amount in fines, and requested them to go to Kroger and wire them the money," said Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas. "And it's a scam."
Fortunately, the person who received the call didn't believe it, and went to the authorities. But could other people be fooled?
We sampled some residents about how they would have reacted to a call like that.
"It's kind of obvious that it's a scam, so I wouldn't really deal with them too much," noted Donald Heath of Shadyside. "Maybe I'd call the police department and let them know that I got the phone call and give them the number. But other than that, I wouldn't talk to them too much."
"I would know it's not true," said Susan Apicella of Shadyside. "I would check my caller ID and take down the number and call the authorities. I would know I wouldn't owe $10,000."
"I'd probably call the Sheriff's Department back and ask them," said Essie Wilson of Barnesville. "And I wouldn't send them any money or anything."
"I would hang up on them," said Sherri Williams of Bellaire. "I know I don't owe anybody $10,000, so I'd probably hang up on them. And I'd probably report it to the police."
And that's what the sheriff wants--for people to be alert, suspicious, ask questions, get information and then report the scammers.
Lucas says that's not something his department would do anyway.
"We would never contact you by phone," he explained. "If you owed fines and costs or if there's a warrant, we're going to be coming after you in person. We're not going to call you up!"