The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement regarding the ongoing scams.
“The spike in fraud and scams being reported to the Sheriff’s Office continues as another instance occurred Saturday.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate these scams, but the thieves are difficult to catch as many operate overseas. With that in mind Sheriff Rick Ramsay continues to spread the word about these scams in the hopes that not one more Florida Keys resident falls victim to these criminals. These cases come on the heels of reports that scammers are posing as legitimate local law enforcement officers and using real police station phone numbers. In those scams, the thieves always falsely tell residents they either missed jury duty or have a warrant for their arrest or some other fake story. In all these scams, residents are told to buy prepaid gift cards and to give the numbers over the phone. They are falsely told that if they pay the scammers using the prepaid gift cards their made-up legal troubles would be over.
In the instant case, a Sugarloaf Key man told Deputy Richard Wang on Saturday that a man falsely claiming to be a law enforcement officer named “Bobby Burkett,” falsely told him he had missed federal jury duty. The caller said if he paid a fake bond, he wouldn’t be arrested. Key detail: There is a Sgt. Bobby Burkett who works for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, but he reported having no interaction with the victim in this case. Another key detail: The victim stated the caller knew about a previous citation the victim received, which made him believe the caller was legitimate.
In several other recent cases, thieves have posed as Lower Keys Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. David Smith. In at least one case, thieves used the number for the Sheriff’s Office substation at 50 High Point Road, Tavernier.
Regarding the case Saturday, the victim feared bring arrested, so he purchased numerous gift cards consisting of Amazon, Google Play and VISA totaling, $9,900. The victim said he became suspicious when the caller asked for another $10,000. By the time the victim realized he had been scammed it was too later to cancel the cards or his bank account.
In a case reported Friday, a scammer called a Marathon man on Friday making a the same claim: The man on the receiving end of the call had falsely missed jury duty and he would have to purchase prepaid gift cards in order to avoid a warrant being issued for his arrest. The called identified himself as “Derek Long” and instructed the man to stay on the phone as he drove to a pharmacy to purchase two, $500 Money Pak gift cards.
The scammer instructed the victim to give him the numbers on the cards. The scammer told him one of the numbers did not work and that he needed to purchase another $500 gift card, which the victim did. In all, the victim lost $1,500.
Key details in the scam: The caller ID on the victim’s phone stated the incoming number was a Marathon number. Further, the scammer told the victim at some point in the conversation that he may need to go to specific office in Marathon, though he never did. This convinced the victim given the victim was familiar with that address and office in town.
Recently, a Marathon woman received a call from a man claiming to be from Comcast. He falsely told the woman her computer had been hacked. He falsely stated the “hackers” had her personal information and that she would need to buy a piece of electronic equipment from the computer manufacturer Dell in order to prevent the hack from occurring again.
The next day, the caller, who identified himself as “Josh Matthews,” called the woman again and told her the equipment would cast $5,000. The woman stated she could not purchase the equipment. The man said he would be fired if she didn’t buy the equipment. The man gave the woman a number at Dell to call. The woman called the number. The man on that line said he would have the equipment delivered along with a check for $5,000. The fake Dell employee instructed the woman to cash the check and give the delivery driver $2,000 in cash. The woman agreed to do this.
The woman called “Josh Matthews” a day later and told him the equipment had not arrived. He told her she would need to send six, $500 Google Play cards for the equipment to be shipped. He added she could then keep the entire check from the delivery driver. The woman went to a pharmacy and bought the gift cards. She then gave “Josh Matthews” the numbers for each card over the telephone. The woman told a friend about the matter and that friend told her she was likely scammed and to report the case to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office contacted Google. Google told us the gift cards had already been cashed.
- The Sheriff’s Office reminds all residents: NEVER PAY FOR ANYTHING OVER THE PHONE USING PREPAID GIFT CARDS!
- If you receive such a call: HANG UP! Contact the organization the caller claims to be representing and report the incident to local law enforcement.”
Anyone with information about any crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-292-7000. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-471-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward. Tips may also be submitted online at www.floridakeyscrimestoppers.com or via a text message using the smartphone app called P3 Phone. Tips can also be submitted via social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the @CrimeStoppers305 hashtag.