Sheriff’s Office Issues Public Service  Announcement (PSA) Regarding Phone Scams

NEWS RELEASE 24-018 - MAY16, 2024

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up efforts to inform the community about the uptick in the frequency of warrant and juror scams. 

The intricacy of several recent phone scams is concerning as callers claim to be affiliated with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and use ranks and actual names of current or past employees to increase credibility. The callers claim to be informing victims that they have an arrest warrant for not appearing in court, forgetting to pay a fine, or failing to report for jury duty. The callers speak quickly and aggressively to pressure the citizens to handle payment immediately via mobile bank transfer, cryptocurrency, gift cards, or pre-paid debit cards.

The sheriff’s office advises citizens that agency members will NEVER demand payment or request personal financial information over the telephone. If a citizen receives a call from a suspected scammer regarding an alleged arrest warrant or demand for payment of civic fines, they should consider this a possible scam. In these cases, do not provide any financial information. End the call and report it immediately to local law enforcement. 

SCSO’s Economic Crimes Unit (ECU), created in 2021 to mitigate similar financial scams, has been inundated with these reports. Last year, the fraud-related financial loss in Sarasota County totaled $14,274,892.64, up almost $5 million since the previous year. In most of these cases, the victim’s money cannot be located or returned. 

“These phone scams have been happening for years, and we want to make sure that our citizens are aware that this is an ongoing issue,” commented Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman. “When we hear of these scams, they can seem obvious, but repeatedly, the scammers convince innocent citizens that this is a real and urgent issue, then quickly turn them into victims. Let’s discuss this with our neighbors, friends, and parents to help stop this from happening.”

If you or someone you know has been a recent victim of a scam, contact the sheriff’s office at 941.316.1201 to make a report.