A caller claiming to be a member of a local sheriff's office has attempted to scam a number of people in counties throughout the Tennessee Valley, now it's happening in Rhea County but this time deputies have a little more to go on.
"I think it's all related. I think they're using a scare tactic by using the sheriff's department and possibly putting someone in jail," Rhea County Chief Deputy John Argos says.
Deputies say someone is calling people, pretending to be officers who say they owe hundreds of dollars for skipping jury duty. "We don't collect fines as a sheriff's department and we don't serve the grand jury subpoenas either," Argos explains.
Deputies learned about the scam when a potential victim called the real sheriff's office to complain. "These people had left a number for him to call back to make arrangements for payment," says Argos. Deputies called that number spoke with a man who acted very professional, even identified himself as Chris Sneed. Sneed is the police chief at the Dayton Police Department.
"We're personal friends with Chris and we knew he had no association with that or anything. They were just using his name like they did my officer," says Argos.
County officials say being informed is the best way to keep from becoming a victim. "If the judge wanted to call somebody in because they missed jury duty we would send out a summons and the sheriff's department would actually go out and serve them with a summons to come to court," explains Circuit Court Clerk Jamie Holloway.
Deputies say whoever is doing this is using pre-paid phones and quickly getting rid of them. "If you are scamming our people, our elderly people, our citizens, we will try to do everything we can to catch you and put you where you need to be and that's in jail," says Argos.