Scams Trending in Bay County






January 30, 2019

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office announced today that there has been a trending increase in several types of scams in the Bay County area.

The IRS phone scam, the Jury Duty scam, and the Social Security scam have all increased. The BCSO Financial Crimes Hotline received 31 complaints of these scams in just 10 days.

“Educating the public is our best strategy to fight scammers,” said Sheriff Tommy Ford. “Using technology, scammers make it almost impossible to trace and identify them. When we are able to follow a trail, it often leads us overseas to countries where prosecution is almost impossible.”

IRS scams involve a phone call to a potential victim, the accusation that the victim has been avoiding paying taxes or still owes more taxes, and will be arrested. The victim is offered an opportunity to avoid arrest by purchasing gift cards from a store and giving the scammer the code on the back of the card. This way the scammer can redeem the card using the code and get the money the victim spent on the card.

The Jury Duty scam also uses the threat of potential arrest to intimidate a victim. The victim is told over the phone they missed jury duty and now face arrest, unless they purchase gift cards and pay to have the warrant “removed”.

The Social Security scam involves a phone call to a targeted victim informing them their Social Security number has been compromised and used by another person. In order to straighten out this identity theft issue, the victim is instructed to pay, using gift cards, to have the Social Security Administration correct the problem.

High pressure techniques and intimidation often leave potential victims unsure and they follow instructions to pay to avoid the embarrassment of an arrest.

Sheriff Tommy Ford wants the public to know that the IRS, the Bay County Clerk of the Court that handles the jury summons process, and the Social Security Administration will NEVER call to threaten arrest that can be prevented by a payment using gift cards.

Another scam trending in Bay County is a Rental scam. Because so many in Bay County are looking for rental homes due to Hurricane Michael, there are many being advertised on Craigslist that are not really for rent. Thousands of dollars have been stolen from victims wiring or mailing rent money, showing up to the home to move in, and finding out it was already rented by someone else, or never really for rent. Please insist on visiting the house in person prior to sending money. The owner, or their representative, should meet you there with a key to let you inside, or use a reputable property management company to assist in renting a home.

If you want to report a scam attempt please call the Bay County Financial Crimes Hotline at (850)248-2328. If you have been victimized, please call the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Unit at 747-4700.


Prepared by R. Corley

Information by Inv. D. Roach

Approved by Sheriff T. Ford