RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Con artists claiming to be government agents are contacting Riverside County residents seeking payments over the phone for ``bonds'' issued because of fraudulent activity, and sheriff's officials today warned call recipients not to fall for the scam.
Sheriff's Sgt. Timothy Brause said that the sheriff's department has received a number of reports about the racket, which has generally involved individuals purporting to represent the Social Security Administration.
Brause said fictitious ``agents'' will call victims saying that because of fraud committed using their Social Security number, a bond must be paid to avoid going to jail.
In some instances, the scam artists are thorough in their attempt to confirm a victim's identity and advise them to wait for a follow-up phone call from a law enforcement agent for further instructions.
``The victim receives a call from a caller ID number naming the local law enforcement agency,'' Brause said. ``The person on the phone identifies themselves as an officer with the local agency, who then directs the victim to comply with the `agent' when called again. The fictitious agent calls back, then threatens the victim with a felony arrest warrant unless a `bond' is posted.''
The bogus authorities often request that payments to satisfy the bonds be made via Apple Pay, Google Play, a Target or Walmart gift card, according to the sergeant.
He said no government agency would demand payments by these methods -- over the phone -- and such requests should be an immediate clue that the entire operation is fake.
``This type of scam has several variations,'' Brause said. ``In addition to callers claiming to represent the Social Security Administration ... the IRS, out-of-state police agencies and other government agencies have also been falsely represented. The consistent theme is, the victim is directed to submit the `gift card bond.' The victim is told the bond will be refunded when the criminal issue is resolved.''
But gift card payments cannot be reimbursed, the sergeant noted.
Anyone who believes they have been targeted in the scam should contact the sheriff's department at 951-776-1099.