New phone scam targets Utah County; caller impersonates real sheriff’s office employees

Local News

UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) – The phone scams are making their rounds again in Utah County, but this time, the scammers are getting a little bit more creative.

Brody Chipman missed a call Sunday morning from a number with an 801 area code. When he listened to the voicemail left behind, he was shocked at what the caller said.

“Mr. Chipman, this is Lt. David Oliver again with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. […] Mr. Chipman, it is very important that you get in touch with me as soon as possible. […] I need to speak to you TODAY, Mr. Chipman or there could be some very serious legal implications, alright?” the caller in the voicemail said.

“It sounded a little sketchy, but also kind of legitimate and scary,” said Chipman. “But the urgency of it made me suspicious. One, I don’t even know what the administrative office at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office does and I don’t know why they’d be contacting me.”

After doing some research online, he found that there is, indeed, a Lt. David Oliver with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. But when he reached out via e-mail and sent the voicemail audio recording over, Lt. Oliver said the caller in the message wasn’t him.

“It’s a common tactic. They try to add an air of legitimacy to their approach so that it’s more believable to people and creates a higher likelihood that they’ll be able to carry out their scam,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. “There’s been several people whose actual names have been used. My name has been used in this approach with scammers.”

Other red flags that Sgt. Cannon identified were:

  • The caller had a Southern accent. The real Lt. Oliver does not
  • In their message, they referred to their agency as the Utah County Sheriff’s ‘Department,’ instead of ‘Office’
  • Other than the area, the phone number given in the voicemail was completely different than the actual sheriff office’s phone number

“It made me feel good when I found out my concerns had been validated,” said Chipman. “I want others to be aware and question it when something like this happens. If it doesn’t sound legit, it probably isn’t. It only takes a couple of minutes to do a Google search.”

Sgt. Cannon said employees from their civil division do make outbound calls, but he encourages residents to question the legitimacy of the caller when something sounds suspicious.

“We won’t get offended if you question us,” he said. “In fact, we encourage it.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.