It would appear the criminals have sunk to a new level. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes section is now investigating several cases where the con artists are using the names of real Sheriff’s Deputies and even our Chief Judge to facilitate their criminal activity. .
According to deputies, one of the suspects called a citizen and identified himself as Sergeant Ryan Armstrong. The suspect told the victim that she was going to be charged with Failure to Appear for a civil violation and a warrant was issued for her arrest. The victim was then transferred to multiple different males, claiming to be Jack Peterson and Lieutenant John Luckett.
The victim was convinced the suspects were legitimate, as she researched their names online. The suspects instructed the victim to buy multiple gift cards in various denominations totaling over $12,500.00 to resolve the warrant. The victim purchased all of the gift cards and provided the bar codes to the suspects over the phone.
The suspects called from (727)-582-6242, which is the main line for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Civil Court Services. They also spoof their number to appear as (727)-582-6200, the main phone number for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The case is now under investigation.
Authorities notified Pinellas/Pasco Chief Judge Shawn Crane that the scam artist(s) also used his name on two fake warrants.
We have experienced similar scams in Pasco County in the past and our law enforcement and judicial partners are urging the public to be vigilant and report any activity that appears to be questionable.