In a news release sent Tuesday, sheriff's officials outlined two examples of the scam artists at work.
On Tuesday, Oct. 29, a male suspect called 69-year-old Yorba Linda resident Lorraine Johnson. The suspect falsely identified himself as Lt. Mike Stevens with the Orange County Warrant Division and told Johnson that there was an arrest warrant issued for her because she failed to appear in court on a traffic citation. The suspect said Johnson was caught by a traffic camera in Yorba Linda, and blamed a glitch in the system for not mailing a court notice to her address.
The suspect then told Johnson that her bail amount was $365. He instructed her to purchase a MoneyPak card and provide him the number so he could pay her bail. The suspect even told Johnson to stay on the phone with him while purchasing the card just in case she was pulled over by police. That way, he explained, he could tell the officer what she was doing so she would not be arrested on the warrant.
In a more recent case in Laguna Hills, another victim was contacted on his cellphone by a caller fraudulently identifying himself as Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The caller said he was working with the Internal Revenue Service to collect back taxes the victim allegedly owed.
Similar to the last example, the suspect in this case also told the victim to purchase a MoneyPak card for the amount of his debt, which totaled $4,000, and provide him the number. The suspect then proceeded to tell the victim that if he did not do as he was told, the SWAT team will raid his home and arrest him. The caller identification function on the phone fraudulently indicated that the call was coming from the Orange County Sheriff's Department's non-emergency phone number.
Sheriff's officials want to emphasize that the department does not solicit by phone. If you receive similar suspicious calls, you're urged not to give out any personal information and contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7000.