We’ve told you about phone and email scams where criminals pretend to be ACSO deputies and threaten to arrest people if they don’t send money for missing fake jury duty or because they have false arrest warrant.
Now it appears the same kind of internet-based criminals have added a text message scam to their arsenal.
We are aware at least three people have received unsolicited text messages over the last several weeks from someone pretending to be ACSO deputy “Jason” – and when those people clicked on a link in those messages, it apparently installed malware on their phones that gives the scammers access to data stored on the phone. That includes personal info such as photo libraries, phone numbers, email addresses, etc…
It also appears at least of one of those victims got threatening messages from “Jason” demanding money or else they would release info from that person’s phone over the internet.
To make matters even worse, the picture accompanying the text messages is from a current ACSO deputy, who detectives suspect had his photo copied from social media and is now being used by the scammers.
Criminals using the good name and reputation of our agency to try to defraud our citizens is unacceptable. What makes it really vexing is that the criminals can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, because so much of this fraud and harassment is done over the internet. It is very difficult to trace.
We want to assure you our detectives are working on identifying these criminals and are working with state and federal law enforcement agencies to find and arrest them.
For now, the best way to avoid being a victim of a scam like this is to just delete text messages or emails from people you don’t know – and NEVER click on a link in those messages. The links are where the malware or ransom-ware lives.
You should know that an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy will never send you an unsolicited email or text message with a picture of them sitting in a car and asking personal questions. They will also never put a link in messages.
If this has happened to you, please let us know so we can investigate. Sharing the information on Facebook to warn others is good, but if you don’t tell law enforcement what is happening, we can’t investigate it.
Two of three victims we are aware of have not yet contacted the detectives investigating this case. We are trying to reach out to them to get information. If you have received text messages from ACSO officer “Jason” or anyone else claiming to be an ACSO deputy, please call Ada County non-emergency dispatch at (208) 377-6790 or Detective Rob Fowler at (208) 577-3703.