Phone scam targets teachers in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is warning teachers and school systems about a phone scam.

It has surfaced in Franklin, Jefferson and Whitley counties, according to investigators.

Someone identifying himself as “Deputy Hart” is calling schools asking to speak with a specific teacher who allegedly has an outstanding warrant or missed jury duty, according to the attorney general’s office.

School officials have been threatened with “obstruction charges” if the scammer is not given information or allowed to speak with the teacher. Once on the phone with the victim, the scammer requests payment via gift cards to resolve the legal matter and avoid arrest, according to investigators.

Reports indicate that the scam call is spoofed appearing to be from a local area code and one victim said the scammer pressured her to purchase $2,500 in gift cards, but ultimately she did not fall victim, according to investigators.

The Office of Attorney General has been in contact with each school district, local officials and the Department of Education and asked teachers and school district employees to follow these tips to avoid falling victim to the scam.

Change your privacy settings
Be aware that con artists may use the information that is publicly available on social media against you. Consider adjusting your privacy settings to protect key information about you and your family.

Verify the call
A scammer may call from a spoofed phone number and pretend to have information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials, courthouse addresses and phone numbers. Never trust the caller and always verify information independently before making a payment.

Never pay over the phone using gift cards or reloadable credit cards   
Scammers typically use gift cards and reloadable cards as their preferred method of payment because they are almost impossible to track and recover. Know that legitimate local authorities will not ask you to pay using these methods.

To report a scam contact the Office of the Attorney General at 888-432-9257 and file a complaint online.

Kentuckians are urged to stay up to date on new and trending scams by signing up for Scam Alerts.

To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

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