Phone scammer claims to be local judge, asks for money

Published 6:16 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

NATCHEZ — A phone scam reached a number of people Tuesday where a mysterious caller claimed to be a local judge and asked the call recipient to make a payment or be arrested.

Judge John Hudson of Natchez said one of the people to fall prey to this phone scam was someone he knew who fortunately contacted him to ensure that it was indeed a scam.

Hudson said a woman, who asked to be left anonymous, had been called by someone using his name and was told to pay $6,000 through Apple Pay.

“She apparently talked to this person for a while,” Hudson said. “She didn’t know it was a scam and the caller sounded sophisticated. He said if she tried to call me back, they would move her case from a civil one to a criminal one, so she asked ‘We’ll how do I know this is real?’ and they told her they would have a dispatcher call her to verify it was real. When they called back it showed up on her caller ID as an Adams County Sheriff’s Office number.”

Hudson said because the woman knew him, she texted him and did not give the caller money.

This occurred after 2 p.m. Tuesday, he said.

At around the same time, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said sheriff’s office phone lines were called multiple times by a caller using a similar scam without realizing they were calling the sheriff’s office.

“By the time the realized they who they were talking to, they hung up,” Patten said. “Today was the only day we’ve experienced this and it was around 2 p.m. this evening. I’m expecting more calls from scammers. It’s the holiday season and they are relentless.”

He added the numbers used are fake and the sheriff’s department is not equipped to trace it back to the actual caller.

“If she got the call and the sheriff’s office got the call, I can only guess at how many others might have gotten it,” Hudson said.

Those who fall victim to such a scam can contact the Attorney General’s Office, which has a specific division for phone scams, Patten said.

Both Hudson and Patten said there are no circumstances where anyone would be asked pay fines through Apple Pay or any sort of cash ap over the phone in Adams County.

“That never happens and certainly not in Adams County,” Hudson said. “There are no threats like that. If a bench warrant is issued, you get picked up. This is totally fraudulent. There would never be a request for you to make a payment through Apple Pay to government authorities.”

Patten said the best practice if such a call is received is to hang up, block the number and never give out money or personal information such as banking information or social security numbers over the phone, even if the caller claims to be someone you recognize.