The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff is warning residents against falling victim to phone calls from scammers who pose as law enforcement and swindle scared folks out of their money.

In a new video released Tuesday, Sheriff Rob Abernathy warns against the scam before a short dramatization from Tuscaloosa's Lance Holloway Productions.

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In the video, a scammer calls an older woman and tells her there is a warrant out for her arrest because she missed jury duty - a common line in these schemes.

The caller imparts a sense of dire urgency, telling the woman she must pay $500 immediately or face arrest. He insists that the only way to avoid trouble with the police is to purchase a physical gift card for the total amount and share that card info with the "officer" on the other end of the call.

The scammer insists checks and credit cards won't do, that the sheriff's office and courthouse are closed due to COVID and can't be visited in person and more. These are all ploys to get his victim to purchase a gift card and let him redeem the balance, which makes the money people are scammed out of almost impossible to recover.

It sounds far-fetched, but thousands of people across the US have fallen victim to such scare tactics in recent years, and Abernathy says TCSO continues to receive reports that local scammers are posing as their deputies, investigators and leaders.

"The sheriff's office will never call you and ask for funds," Abernathy said. "Tuscaloosa, please don't fall for these scams."


The real sheriff's office can be reached at 205-752-0616, and the Tuscaloosa Police Department is 205-349-2121. Residents should not hesitate to call them directly and ask for help, or to report people impersonating law enforcement who may be scammers.

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