A person claiming to work for the Pima County Sheriff's Department has been calling people and saying they have an outstanding warrant, and they can pay off the fines with a pre-paid credit card, authorities said.

The phone number appears on the victim's caller ID as a valid sheriff's department number, but it is not, said Deputy Tracy Suitt, a sheriff's department spokesman.

Persons who have received the suspicious calls notified the sheriff's department, Suitt said. He said none of the persons reporting the calls to the department became victims. 

The caller provides the person with a telephone number to call to pay off the fines using the credit card, Suitt said.

The scam is known as "caller ID spoofing," said Suitt.

Through a service the scam artist can masquerade as someone else by falsifying the number that appears on the recipient's caller ID display, Suitt said.

Identity thieves, who use the service also claim to be from a financial institution, and ask for sensitive information such as a person's date of birth and Social Security number, said Suitt.

Some tips to prevent a person from becoming a victim are:

  • Law enforcement agencies will not have a person send payments or purchase pre-paid credit cards to pay fines.
  • Do not give personal information to an incoming caller.
  • Contact your financial institution and ask if a representative is trying to contact you.
  • Contact the law enforcement agency to see if you actually have an outstanding warrant.
  • Report suspicious calls to law enforcement agencies.