Berrien County Sheriff’s Department warns of phone scam

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022

BERRIEN COUNTY — A new scam is on the rise in southwest Michigan.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has received numerous reports from the community related to a telephone scam originating from the number (269) 421-3024. Identifying themselves as sheriff’s department officers using names including Lt. Smith, Sgt. King, Sgt. Andrews and Capt. Jackson — none of which are names of officers with the department – the scammers are calling county residents saying they are wanted by the “warrant squad” and are asking for personal information over the phone. The number appears as “Berrien County Sheriff” or “Sheriff Office” on caller ID.

“They have gotten sophisticated,” said Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit. “For this one, when they leave a phone number and you call back, it does sound like an automated system for the county or police department. The number can look like a local number on the caller ID; sometimes the person isn’t even in this country.”

According to Heit, the sheriff’s department does not have a warrant squad nor does it contact residents over the phone to tell them they have a warrant.

“We want people to know that this is not how normal business is conducted,” he said. “We’re trying to alert people to protect their personal information.”

The sheriff’s department took to Facebook to alert the community to the ongoing phone scam. In scams of this nature, older residents are the most vulnerable.

“We wanted to put that out there for people to be aware of,” Heit said. “If we have a warrant out for someone, we aren’t going to call and ask for personal information.”

Heit asked residents who receive suspicious calls from a number claiming to be from an official agency to contact their local police department or the sheriff’s department at (269) 983-7141 with any questions to confirm the legitimacy of the inquiry.

“You can always call the official agency itself if you know the number,” Heit said. “If a police agency is trying to get a hold of them, they can always call and verify who the officer is.”