Don't Help a Thief Steal your Money

By Kelly Jameson, PIO DAC Sheriff's Department

The scam is one of the oldest tricks in the book: You receive a phone call from someone who sounds official. They explain that you owe taxes, an unpaid citation – or worse – you have a warrant for your arrest and clearing it up over the phone with money is your only way to stay out of jail.

Last year, the number of reported phone scams continued to spike in Doña Ana County. Because the scammers prey on innocent victims who might not know different, residents lost thousands of dollars that could not be recovered. 

Scammers who hope to profit off of unsuspecting residents in Doña Ana County have asked for payment over the phone using iTunes cards, bank account information, or various prepaid cash cards that immediately transfer funds once PIN numbers are compromised and shared over the phone. 

Another popular scam in 2017 featured recorded messages saying callers have reached the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department, even going so far as to use the name of a current sheriff’s department employee.  A recording asks callers to leave a number, and are then contacted with instructions on how to clear up a warrant using a pre-paid check card. 

The New Mexico Attorney General’s office routinely highlights the top phone scams circulating throughout the state as part of Consumer Protection Week, which last year included fraudulent phone calls attempting to collect on a warrant or delinquent taxes. 

The sheriff’s department has never – nor will it ever – contact anyone by phone to clear up a warrant. Additionally, fines can only be paid through the magistrate or district court system – never through a prepaid check card to someone over the phone. 

The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department is hoping to make a shift in 2018 with an anti-fraud campaign designed to educate residents on how to spot a scam. The colorful posters, in English and in Spanish, urge people to know the signs of a scam, and to never give out personal information such as your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, or any financial information such as credit/debit card numbers, PINs or bank account numbers.  

The posters will be distributed for display in public places and retail establishments where prepaid cash cards can be purchased. 

Winter 2018

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