Wood County Sheriff’s Department warns of scam

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Sheriff’s Department Thursday warned residents of a scam.

Someone is calling victims and the number appears to be from the sheriff’s department, a spoofed number, Sheriff Rick Woodyard said. The caller gets the victim to buy gift cards to pay a fine.

A resident received a call at around 1 p.m. Wednesday that showed the sheriff’s office number, Woodyard said.

The caller wanted the individual to purchase gift cards to pay a fine or a fee the caller claimed the resident owed the sheriff’s department.

“The gentlemen went and got the cards because he thought it was a legit call, because the department’s number came up on the Caller ID,” Woodyard said.

The person bought nine $300 gift cards, at a cost of $2,760 and gave the gift card numbers over the phone. The caller then told the individual to mail the gift cards to the sheriff’s department.

That is not the way the department does business, Woodyard said.

“The sheriff’s department doesn’t collect fines or fees,” Woodyard said. “That is the magistrate side of the house.”

No one at the sheriff’s department or the courts would ask for a gift card as payment for anything, he said.

“It was a scam” the sheriff said.

The department is forwarding the matter to federal officials who might be able to track the gift cards.

“Generally, it is hard to track because the people are not even from here,” Woodyard said. “They are generally from another country.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who fall prey to these scams every year.”

With any phone call like that, which is out of the ordinary, Woodyard advises people to question it.

“If it doesn’t sound right or look right it probably isn’t right,” he said.

If people have questions, they can call the sheriff’s department at 304-424-1834 and ask if something is legitimate or not.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com.


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