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Sheriff's office warns of ID theft scam involving use of actual names of officers

The Merced Sheriff's Office said it received a call Monday from an intended victim of an old scam to swindle money from unsuspecting citizens.

The suspects called the victim, pretending to be the FBI, stating that the victim had won the Publisher's Clearing House back in 2008, but someone had managed to steal the money back then. After the suspects’ "investigation" they’d been able to retrieve the prize money and return it to the "rightful" owner; the victim. All it would take would be for the victim to write a small check and send it to Budapest to "activate" the account and the suspects would send the prize.

The suspects then have the victim's account number, name of their bank, home address and other vital info. “This scam has been going on for years and unsuspecting or uninformed people fall prey to this type of con all the time,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

When the victim questioned the caller about it, the suspect asked what law enforcement jurisdiction he lived in, then said he’d call back in a few minutes. After a few minutes, the suspect called back and said the contact person for their investigation in this jurisdiction was Detective Sgt. Coburn.

The suspects probably did a simple Internet search of local news stories to come up with the name. When the victim called Sgt. Coburn to confirm the story, the victim was immediately notified that it was an identity theft scam and not to send any money.

The Merced Sheriff's Office wants the public to be aware of the identity theft scam using actual law enforcement personnel names. The sheriff’s office warned people never to give out personal information unless you initiated the call; and never send money when someone calls saying you won a grand prize and all they need is a small amount from you to give you the prize.