Sheriff’s deputies are warning citizens to beware of potential phone scams circulating Wayne County.

Concerned residents recently called the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office about an unknown person who is calling people and misrepresenting himself as Capt. Ray Brogden and using the sheriff’s office number of 919-731-1481, said Maj. Richard Lewis, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

The individual is “spoofing” the sheriff’s office phone number, Lewis said. Spoofing is when a person deliberately falsifies information transmitted to caller ID to disguise their identity, which is often used to trick people into giving out personal information, he said.

According to people who received the phone call, the unknown caller is claiming the victims have outstanding warrants for arrest for failure to comply with jury duty, Lewis said. The caller is telling people to pay a secured bond or fine with a pre-paid debit or gift card to avoid arrest.

Deputies investigating the problem found that the unknown caller contacted area residents and then then sent United States District Court documents through email, Lewis said. The documents claim the victim violated federal law and lists the bond amount the victim is facing. The documents also claim law enforcement is tracking the victim using cellphone information and failure to comply with instructions will result in an arrest.

“No legitimate law enforcement will ever ask a citizen to obtain prepaid debit/gift cards to avoid arrest,” Lewis said in a statement. “Anytime an individual requests a citizen to obtain prepaid debit/gift cards to avoid an arrest, it is a scam and that citizen will lose their money.”

The call is similar to scam in January when deputies received reports of people receiving calls from a scammer claiming he was a local law enforcement officer, Lewis said in a previous interview. The caller also claimed he was Brogden and demanded money or the victim would face arrest for not attending jury duty.

Brogden is a captain with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, but law enforcement officers do not call to threaten people with arrests for not paying a fine or missing jury duty, Lewis said.

People should hang up if they receive a call from an unknown person claiming they are a local law enforcement officer and demanding money, Lewis said. Residents can then call the sheriff’s office at 919-731-1480 or 919-731-1481 to verify whether they have an outstanding warrant or if any legal document has been served.

Another scam the sheriff’s office received reports about is a caller out of Jamaica claiming an individual won the lottery, Lewis said. Scammers are requiring people to send money using prepaid debit and gift cards to pay upfront taxes on the supposed winnings.

“There are other variations of scams that are used,” Lewis said. “In all of them, the scammer will use fear as a tactic and demand money from you.”

Deputies with the sheriff’s office are encouraging people to check in on elderly family members, who are often more susceptible to scam phone calls, Lewis said.

People can also report scam phone calls to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or complete an online form at www.ncdoj.gov.