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Scammers grow more bold, target ‘well known public figures’ in C.C.


     A scam with a familiar theme has become more brazen, targeting some “well known public figures” in Columbus County, Columbus County Sheriff’s spokesperson Michele Tatum said.

     “One individual did pay the scammer money,” Tatum said in an April 29 news release. Health care providers and at least one person “employed in the judicial system” have also been targeted, Tatum said.

     Tatum posted a warning on the CCSO Facebook page on April 28, and followed up with media notifications on April 29 as the number of cases escalated.

Familiar scam, unfamiliar targets

     It’s an old scam, someone calling the target by phone, claiming to be a law enforcement officer, telling the victim that there is a warrant for their arrest for failing to appear in court, and they must pay money to avoid arrest.

     Health care providers have been the most recent targets, the caller claiming to be Kenneth Smith, sometimes referenced as a deputy, officer, lieutenant, captain, or some other rank. The caller typically provided the correct address for the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, Tatum said.

     “This is a scam,” the sheriff’s office Facebook post said. “If you have an outstanding warrant for arrest, generally speaking, we will not call you. Please protect your information, identity, and finances by not interacting with anyone threatening arrest by telephone.

     “The easiest way to protect yourself is to simply hang up the phone on the scammers. They are good at what they do and know exactly how to manipulate you. If you would like to verify if you have a warrant for your arrest, just stop by our office and we will be glad to assist you.”

     A specific warning was issued for health care providers.

     “If you are a health care provider, especially those with their own practice, please be advised that a scammer may contact you, if they have not already done so,” the CCSO post said.

     Anyone who receives a questionable call is advised to hang up, and if they have any doubt to call the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office at 910-653-6551.