If a caller claiming to be from any law enforcement agency or sheriff’s office demands payment for unknown fines, be on high alert — it’s likely a scam.
Rhode Island State Police and the Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs are warning residents about the latest in law enforcement-themed phone scams after several reports of people who were contacted via phone and asked to make immediate payment on fictitious fines, some of which involve the caller using the actual names of employees with the Division of Sheriffs.
“The callers ask to make arrangements to collect fines that are supposedly owed for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay a citation or failure to appear for jury duty,” Col. Ann C. Assumpico, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and director of the Department of Public Safety, said in a press release. “The callers in some cases ask that the person meet them in the parking lot outside the sheriff’s office, or at other locations.”
Chief Sheriff David M. DeCesare said his office had received several calls from residents concerned about this request — and for good reason, he said.
DeCesare said in the cases brought to his attention, at least a dozen instances as of Monday, the intended victim was contacted by someone claiming to be a deputy sheriff and asking them to meet for payment outside a state courthouse. In some cases, they used the names of employees of the Division of Sheriffs, while in other cases a fictitious name was provided.
But when it comes to fines or fees, neither the Division of Sheriffs nor Rhode Island State Police are responsible for collecting fees, he said.
DeCesare said deputy sheriffs make approximately a hundred calls each week to arrange for service of warrants and other paperwork. However, no payments are requested or accepted by the agency, he said.
“The Division of Sheriffs does not collect fines, nor would it ask someone to meet them outside of the courthouse to pay a fine,” DeCesare said. “In addition, the people who have been called as part of this scam do not appear to even owe fines.”
Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be a deputy sheriff seeking money, or with questions regarding a request, should contact the Division of Sheriffs at 401-275-2900.