Scammers aggressively target Hillsborough, Pinellas residents

- Officials warn there are three phone scams are targeting Hillsborough and Pinellas County residents.

The scammers identify themselves as either an employee of Duke Energy, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jim Gaskins, or as Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Detective/Corporal Larry McKinnon.

All three agencies say they will never call citizens to request money or threaten legal action.

If someone calls you claiming to be from one of these agencies and asks for personal information or payments, or threatens legal action, hang up immediately.

Do not give anyone your personal or financial information over the phone.

Additionally, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office say – if you receive one of these calls – report it to law enforcement.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says it has received reports of a suspect telling a resident they have an outstanding warrant due to missed jury duty. The suspect instructs the resident to either turn themselves in at the sheriff’s office or pay fines, which can be paid over the phone using a prepaid card purchased at a convenience store.

In the case of the Duke Energy phone scams, the suspect tells a resident their power will be shut off if they do not pay their outstanding bill right away using a prepaid card.

Both of these are false stories designed to frighten residents into handing over their money. If you receive such a call, hang up and call your local law enforcement agency.

In Pinellas County, call the sheriff’s office at (727) 582-6200. In Hillsborough County, call the sheriff’s office at (813) 247-8200.

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