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Lincoln authorities warn of continued scams where callers pose as law enforcement
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Lincoln authorities warn of continued scams where callers pose as law enforcement

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
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Local law enforcement agencies are warning residents not to fall for convincing fraud calls where scammers have posed as police officers and staff at the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office.

Lincoln Police Sgt. Chris Vigil said a 67-year-old woman received a call Monday from a fraudster who claimed to be a member of the sheriff's office and told the woman she had two warrants out for her arrest after failing to appear for jury duty. 

Vigil said the call was passed through multiple scammers, all claiming to be law enforcement members, including the Lincoln police chief, though the callers used fictitious names.

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The imposters told the woman she owed fines totaling $1,800 and that she needed to pay the amount by purchasing loadable Green Dot debit cards from a local grocery chain, Vigil said.

Once the woman had purchased the cards, the scammers had her relay the card numbers and mail the physical cards to the Lancaster County Jury Commissioner, Vigil said. 

"Legitimate law enforcement will never ask you to pay fines using this method," Vigil said.

Jury Clerk Nicole Miller said Wednesday a second woman was out $3,000 to the same scam, told she would be refunded if she mailed the Green Dot cards in to the Jury Commissioner's Office at the Hall of Justice. 

When she showed up for the money, she learned she had been scammed. 

Scammers have targets the jury process before, but the promise to be reimbursed is new, she said. 

"It affects the legitimacy of our work," Miller said.

Miller said people always can call the office to verify if they've missed jury duty. They'll never be called up and told they have to pay a fine or get arrested. 

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Earlier this month, a 72-year-old Lincoln man was defrauded out of $11,000 after scammers posing as members of the Boston and Lincoln police departments requested gift cards as payment for legal fees. 

And in December, Lincoln police warned of scammers using information from public crash reports to target residents who had recent interactions with officers, threatening an arrest warrant for nonpayment of fake fines. 

"I wish that, whenever somebody says 'Green Dot,' people would just go, 'Boom, boom, boom, boom,'" Sheriff Terry Wagner said, using his hands to act out an alarm bell sounding in his own head. "It's a scam." 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or awegley@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @andrewwegley

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A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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