GERMANTOWN, Tenn. - A Mid-South father says his daughter was almost the latest victim of a scam that’s been targeting people across the area for years.
He admits even he fell for it at first, and he’s not the only one.
Here's how it works: Someone calls you claiming to be a deputy, and tells you you're going to jail for skipping out on jury duty unless you pay up.
Don Stephens got that call Friday.
"He wanted to get in touch with my daughter," he said.
The man identified himself as Sgt. David Chapman with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office – and even gave a fake badge number.
"It sounded very legit. He was good," Stephens said.
Worried it might be serious, Stephens gave the guy his daughter's number.
"He told her that if she did not respond within 45 minutes with payment to the Shelby County court system, that the local authorities in Arkansas would be sent to apprehend her," Stephens said.
But the scammer said she could avoid all that if she bought a pre-paid Moneypak or Green Dot card, loaded it with nearly $300 and gave him the voucher number.
"He was adamant, 'You've got to do this. You've got 45 minutes,'" Stephens said.
His daughter bought the card, but within minutes, Stephens realized it was a scam.
"I said, 'Just do not do anything with that card, do not give any numbers to anyone,'" he told her.
The guy never called Stephens' daughter back, but WREG called him.
First, we reached a recording saying, "We're sorry. The number you're trying to reach is no longer in service."
We thought the scammer might have our phone number blocked from previous stories we've done, so reporter Nina Harrelson tried from her cell phone.
This time, the call went through.
"Hello, you have reached the sheriff's department civil processing division," the recording said. "For civil processing division officer, Sgt. David Chapman, please dial four."
But the so-called sergeant didn't answer.
We tried another extension. It was a different name, but the same voice.
"You have reached Deputy Steve Jones."
Nina left a message, and a few minutes later, her cell phone number had been blocked, too.
A lot of Mid-Southerners have fallen for the scam, but Stephens is just glad his instinct kicked in before his daughter lost hundreds of dollars.
"I felt extremely foolish by not just telling her to ignore it completely," he said.
Earle Farrell with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says they will never call you for missing jury duty, and certainly wouldn’t ask for money.
If it happens to you, his advice is to just hang up.