A new scam in the Indiana area is targeting professionals, demanding money for not appearing as expert witnesses in court.
Dr. Allison Bush, a physical therapist, says that she got a phone call from someone claiming to be Sergeant Donald Gilmore from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office. The caller gave her a badge number and told her that she owed more than $8,000. He claimed that the fee was owed because she had failed to show up as an expert witness at trial. Dr. Bush said that she initially believed the caller because this type of thing could happen in her line of work.
Dr. Bush said that the caller kept saying, “Do you understand this? Do you understand this? Okay 10-4.” The caller told her that someone had signed her name on a subpoena that she had been sent in the mail, but if they determined that the signature was a forgery, they would reimburse her.
Dr. Bush said that the caller insisted that she tell him the make and model of her car and that she meet him on Martin Luther King Boulevard to send the money over on a kiosk. The caller would not let Dr. Bush speak with her lawyer and threatened her with jail time if she did not pay the fine.
Dr. Bush said, “He tells me I have a gag order on me, and that the gag order means I can’t talk to anybody, not even my lawyer.” Dr. Bush eventually hung up on the caller and called the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office to check up on the caller’s story.
Verifying the Facts
When Dr. Bush spoke to a detective at the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, the detective was not surprised. The detective told Dr. Bush that others had reported the same scam. “Was it Donald Gilmore?,” he said, “You’re the third person today to call me today on this scam.” The detective told Dr. Bush that the call was definitely a scam and not to give the caller any information.
Eyewitness News for TriStateHomepage.com spoke to a detective at Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office. The detective advised that scammers have been running similar scams for a while. Sometimes the scammers will give victims fake names and badge numbers and speak in police lingo in an attempt to seem legitimate. The detective advised that sheriff’s deputies would never call and request payment for a failure to appear in court. This would be something that would be handled by the court.
The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office has even posted a notice on its website warning that scammers have been calling victims and impersonating law enforcement officers. Sheriff Dave Wedding advised, “At no time would a member of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office call someone to demand payment. If someone says they are from the Sheriff’s Office and asks for money, request their name and badge number and then call the Sheriff’s Office directly.” The website warned not to trust caller ID, because this can easily be spoofed to make a call appear legitimate.