"Miami Vice": Phone scam exploits Broward County Sheriff

The Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida says a telephone scam is being perpetrated in the department's name
CBS Miami
(CBS) FORT LAUDERDALE - Broward County authorities say someone is perpetrating an old con with a new twist - trying to get people on the phone to part with their money, while claiming it's the Broward Sheriff's Office on the other end of line, CBS Miami reports.

John Broadbent says he received a phone call last Friday from someone claiming to be with the sheriff's office, who had a disturbing message for him.

"They made it clear to me that if I didn't pay them the money they wanted, they were going to be arresting me," Broadbent said.

Broadbent said the caller told him that the sheriff's Fraud Unit had a warrant for his arrest for an unpaid debt. To avoid going to jail, Broadbent was told to call Captain Tom O'Brien and make arrangements to pay a fine.

"Initially I was convinced that this was legitimate," Broadbent told CBS Miami.

But Broadbent was suspicious and he went online to do some research. He found there is no Captain Tom O'Brien and there is no Broward Sheriff's Fraud Unit.

Broadbent called the sheriff's office and says he was told it was all a scam, CBS Miami reported.

A Broward Sheriff's Office spokesperson said this scam has become commonplace. However, this is the first time the agency has heard of someone trying to pull the con while claiming to be from the sheriff's department.

The department says the scammers usually prey on the elderly.

Broadbent has a leg up on some potential victims. He works for a company that provides identity theft protection.

"I've seen these types of scams before, or I've heard about them," he said.

Broadbent knows not to give out personal info over the phone. He knew what to do to avoid becoming a victim. He wants you to know, too.

"Be careful," he said. "Don't trust everybody. If it doesn't seem right, it probably isn't."