A phone fraudster has begun targeting Madison County residents by impersonating Capt. Mike Dixon — and now, Dixon wants you to call the man’s scam line and leave a message to deter him from victimizing more people.
When the man calls, he tells people they will arrested immediately if they don’t pay a large fine for missing jury duty, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office captain said.
The caller, speaking with a southern accent, instructs people to send a cashier’s check or Green Dot prepaid card in order to pay the fine.
He said about 6 people have called to report this scam, and one elderly man has lost money.
“He’s out of $1,500 — it just disheartens and sickens me that someone is exploiting people using my name ... it just infuriates me,” Dixon said. “These are just very difficult cases to prove.”
He said the scammer provides what appears to be a legitimate phone number because an official-sounding — if not vague — voice prompt gives further directions to the victim.
The number’s recording begins: “Thanks for calling the county sheriff’s office, if it’s an emergency please call 911.” Then, the caller is prompted to choose a “department” after being give three or four options.
Dixon is encouraging people to call the number — 618-659-5063 — and inundate the caller’s inbox with voicemails.
“I would love to make it inconvenient for him, it’s just sickening,” Dixon said.
He said with an influx of messages, maybe the scammer won’t be able to weed out those victims who are actually falling for the scam.
Dixon said investigators believe the scam is being conducted nationwide. And because the suspects often live in big cities, even if police can track down store surveillance footage of a suspect cashing in those cashier’s checks or Green Dot cards, their identity is almost impossible to determine.
Dixon wants the public to know that no government agency will call someone and demand a payment.
“If we could just get people to realize that we would all be far better off. I feel bad for these victims, some of them are out thousands,” he said. “Anybody that calls you and in any way asks for you to get a Green Dot card or a cashier’s check — that is a scam 100 percent of the time.”
Dixon said that these scammers often target the elderly population. The captain added that there could be more victims of this scam that police aren’t aware of because elderly people often don’t tell their families out of embarrassment.
If someone receives a call that appears to be questionable, officers advise they hang up and call the Madison County Sheriff’s Office or their local police department.
“Crimes are becoming more and more elaborate and difficult to solve — no longer are these people stealing and robbing people on site in a specific jurisdiction,” Dixon said.