CREDIT CARD SCAM: Beware of jailhouse calls - KMSP-TV

CREDIT CARD SCAM: Beware of jailhouse calls

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According to the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, a big scam is sending in about two calls per week from individuals who gave out their credit card thinking they were bailing a loved one out of jail.

Mike Arhart's 84-year-old father was a victim of one of these scams, and he hopes to impart his message on the public so they never become fooled as well.

A scam used Arhart as the bait to entice his father to give up his credit card. Mike said it all started with a phone call from the Ramsey County jail on Thursday morning.

"My mom said, ‘Is this Travis?' who is my son, and the person said, ‘No, this is Mike I'm in jail and I'm in big trouble," Arhart said. "The guy was balling and acted scared."

Next, he said the impersonator handed the phone to a man identifying himself as a corrections officer with Ramsey County -- that's when Mike's dad got on the phone.

"My dad got on and said, ‘Your son is in a lot of trouble he was in a car pulled over this morning and he needs to be bailed out,'" Arhart said of the phone call.

The bail was supposedly set at $2,000.

"My dad probably never bailed out anybody in his life, so he assumed the credit card would work.

Ramsey County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Randy Gustafson said that too often they hear about people giving up their credit card information for a scam. 

"I didn't think my dad would, but talking with him, he's as surprised as anyone that he did it, it's just they had the right words the right situation that just the story was convincing," Arhart said.

Thankfully, he canceled his credit card in time, but Arhart's father hopes his story serves as a cautionary tale.

ON THE PHONE WITH A SCAMMER?

Get as much information as possible, including a number of the individual on the other line. Call police, and hopefully, they'll be able to put the scammers behind bars.

Remember: If your loved one ever gets in trouble, bail is made at the jail. 

"A correctional officer is not going to call up a grandparent and say your loved one is in jail and we want your money," Gustafson said.

He also said an officer would never ask for a credit card or a social security number over the phone.

"You can't do it over the phone, no, there's no doing it over the phone," Gustafson said.

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