CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Authorities say scammers are using the Charleston County sheriff's phone number to threaten people with arrest if they don't pay up.
The Federal Trade Commission says the scammers search for law enforcement phone numbers and use software to make it appear on the caller I.D. that the call is legitimate.
Live 5 chief engineer Mike Miller says he was a target of the scam last week.
During a business trip, Miller checked his cell phone for missed calls, and one of them was from a Charleston number.
At first he didn't think much of it and gave it a listen.
"Shock and dismay I guess to start out," Miller said
Here's what he heard: "I'm calling you from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. The reason I was trying to reach you is we have received a federal complaint against you from the Department of Justice."
According to Miller's phone, the call came from the administrative line of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.
"When you first listen to it and somebody tells you there's a federal warrant out for your arrest it sure gets your attention, Miller said.
Miller says his name wasn't mentioned by the caller, so he got suspicious.
"There's multiple callers, people talking in the background and it just seemed like it's coming from a foreign call center," Miller said.
Miller was told to contact an officer John Harris at a number in Pennsylvania.
We went online and discovered the scam was going on nationwide, using legitimate numbers of other sheriff's offices.
We found page after page of complaints from people who were targeted. We tried calling that phone number but kept getting a busy signal.
Miller is convinced the scammers were trying to get money or his personal information from him.
He was smart enough to see through it but authorities say sadly others fall for it and lose thousands of dollars.