DA: Phone scammers pose as Jefferson County employees to gain personal information

Jeff Co. DA: Don't be fooled

GOLDEN, Colo. - Jefferson and Gilpin Counties District Attorney Peter Weir is warning residents to be wary of callers identifying themselves as employees of the "Jefferson County Profits and Services Division," or other government offices.

The District Attorney's Fraud Unit has taken several complaints in the last week from people reporting calls from a polite, soft spoken male who identifies himself as an employee of one of these county offices.

"This person was very nice to me, very sweet," said Luciana Buonafena, who received such a call last week.

Buonafena said the man said he was an employee with the Jefferson County Profits and Services Division. He told her she'd been "red flagged" and needed to call another number.

It was his demeanor she told 7NEWS that made him so believable.

"He was trying to be very supportive. I was shaking and I said, 'I don't know what this is about,'" Buonafena recalled.

When she called the number he gave her, Buonafena said a woman representing a private law firm answered and told her she owed money for both an unpaid credit card and subsequent attorney's fees. The woman threatened that if Buonafena didn't pay the money she'd receive legal papers charging her with fraud.

"This was like an ambush. They were trying to make me believe that I committed fraud," Buonafena said.

Weir said it's just another "phishing" scam, where the scammer uses a good cop/bad cop approach. He said the man's soft spoken demeanor gains people's trust, but don't be fooled.

"This is not the procedure that is used under those circumstances. Anyone that receives any kind of solicitation saying that they may be subject to criminal exposure should know immediately it's a scam," Weir said.

According to the District Attorney's Office, many of the calls refer to an outstanding bill. Colorado does not have a debtors prison and law enforcement will not arrest someone for failure to pay a debt.

Weir reminds consumers, "Beware of callers threatening unwarranted legal action against you.  Only a law enforcement agency or the District Attorney's office can charge someone with a criminal act. Using threats, scammers hope to convince consumers to provide their personal information to prevent any sort of trouble.  This is simply another phishing scheme.  Consumers should never provide financial or personal information over the telephone or internet."

If you live in Jefferson or Gilpin counties and receive such a call, contact the District Attorney's Fraud Hotline at 303-271-6980.

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