If the 'sheriff's office' calls and asks you to pay a fine with a gift card, it's a scam

The sheriff's office isn't going to call and ask you to buy them a gift card.

Gift cards are not a legitimate way to pay a fine. No matter what people tell you over the phone.

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office says in a news release Thursday that it has been getting a lot of calls regarding two different scams. Both ask the victim to pay via gift card and mostly target the elderly.

The first is known as the "jury duty scam." Basically, the thief calls people and says they didn't appear for their jury duty and are at risk of a misdemeanor crime and penalty. However, the scammer says the person can avoid jail time by buying gift cards and passing along the card numbers to the scammer.

There's also the "grandchild in jail scam," which involves the thief pretending to be a grandchild in trouble. The thief says he or she's in jail and needs money to get out. Of course, that money is asked for in the form of a gift card.

If you get one of these calls, the sheriff's office says you should hang up. Just write down any information you have on the person who called and report it to 911.

Sheriff Jack Serier says the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office never calls people asking for gift cards.

Similar warnings have been issues throughout the state over the last six months.

Just last month, Better Business Bureau reissued a warning about spring break scam. In this scam, the thief pretends to be a grandchild in distress and in need of money. This one is popular during spring break seasons when a lot of young people are traveling.

Before that, some people in central Minnesota gave $3,000 to bail a loved one out of jail. Except it wasn't a loved one, it was a thief.

GoMN spoke with a Stearns County Sheriff's Office Captain who said there's no situation in which they would ever accept gift cards for bail.

And last fall, thieves called and posed as kidnappers asking for ransom.

You can find more tips on how to recognize scams here.

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