Officials at the San Francisco Sheriff's Department are trying to sniff out a mysterious "Captain Andy Gore" who cold-called at least 10 hapless people last week, claiming they'd be arrested unless they coughed up $500.
At least one person got duped, and shelled out the money, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey says, heeding Gore's instructions to purchase a pre-paid MoneyPAK card and submit the PIN number.
So if the strange captain calls you, don't open your wallet for him.
Interestingly, the MoneyPAK caper coincides with a spate of similar scams occurring throughout California, including one that hit the San Francisco Superior Courthouse last Wednesday. Another (or perhaps the same) imaginative conman made several calls last week, telling people who answered that they -- or their relatives -- failed to respond to a grand jury summons, and that the only way to resolve it is to pay up.
"It's hard to tell if it's the same group of people engineering all these scams," Fahey says, adding that sheriff investigators haven't turned up any leads thus far. They have, however, called Captain Gore at the phone number he's provided, and confirmed that he indeed answers the phone as "San Francisco County Sheriff's Department."
"When we ask, 'To whom am I speaking?' he quickly hangs up," she says.
For now, Sheriff Mirkarimi and courthouse officials are entreating San Franciscans to use good judgment when they pick up the phone. If you're informed of an outstanding warrant, but can't remember your last brush with the law, then chances are it's a hoax, they say. Not to mention that a real law enforcement officer would never do this.
Victims should call the San Francisco Police Department's financial crimes unit at 415-553-1521.