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Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Issues March 2024 Scams Update

(Walhalla, SC)-------------------------------------In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens, and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing today our March 2024 Scams Update.


The Sheriff’s Office received information about a citizen who lost approximately $6,000 in a law enforcement scam.  The victim said that they received a call from someone named “Officer Sellers,” who advised the victim that they had missed jury duty and a warrant for the victim’s arrest had been issued. 


The victim was then advised to pay money or that they would be arrested.  The victim went to a business and purchased gift cards and then provided the numbers on the gift cards to the subject on the phone.  The victim was then told to the go to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and wait until a Deputy advised him further. 


“According to information obtained during the investigation, the victim advised a Deputy that they received a call from the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line,” according to Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer.  “As we have stated in previous scam updates, a law enforcement officer will not demand payment, and will not accept payment, in order to either drop a charge or have an arrest warrant or a bench warrant recalled.”


“Two other signs of scams are, number one, the scammer telling someone to stay on the phone line while demanded transactions are made,” says Master Deputy Watt.  “Secondly, as stated previously, someone demanding that payment is made using gift cards.  No legitimate business will request that a payment be made using a gift card or an unusual form of payment.  Also, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office does not have an employee with the last name of Sellers.”


The Sheriff’s Office spoke to a citizen who had hired a company to repair a family member’s drive-way on December 16th, 2023.  An amount of $5,000 had been agreed to in order to do the work, but only $3,000 had been paid due to the job not being completed.  There was also an agreement for the contractor to leave equipment at the site of the job until the work on the job was completed.


The contractor returned on December 18th of last year to finish the work, however, a piece of equipment had broken down and work had to stop.  The contractor asked for the last payment, and according to the citizen, the contractor assured the citizen they would be back to finish the following week.


The citizen agreed to make the final payment and was waiting for the work to be completed; however, the work was never finished, even after additional contacts were made and attempted with the contractor. 


“There is a fine line, in a situation where someone is paid to perform a job, between a Breach of Trust situation and something that would have to be settled in a civil court,” according to Master Deputy Watt.  “More than likely, if someone pays a contractor to perform a job, and payment is made and work begins but is not completed, then more than likely the matter will have to be settled in civil court.  If you pay a contractor to perform a job, and money is paid up front and no work is done, then the possibility of criminal charges for Breach of Trust comes into play.”


“If you are looking to hire a contractor, we recommend that you hire local and seek some recommendations from friends and family members,” continues Master Deputy Watt.  “We do not recommend hiring a contractor who arrives at your residence or business, unannounced, and seeks to perform a job.  Also, make sure a contractor you hire is licensed and bonded.”

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