1. Home
  2. >
  3. News and Announcements
  4. >
  5. Nine new reports of...

Nine new reports of phone scams in Collier County

Since April 4, 2024, the Collier County Clerk of the Courts Office of Inspector General has received nine reports from Collier County residents and former residents.

Clerk Crystal K. Kinzel is warning Collier County residents to be vigilant to avoid falling victim to a new round of phone scams. Since April 4, 2024, the Clerk’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has received nine different calls from Collier County residents and former residents, reporting attempted phone scams. The complainants were told they did not report for jury duty, had a warrant for their arrest, were in contempt of court, or failed to pay a traffic citation.

The scammers demanded between $500 and $10,000 from the victims, who were told they could pay in cash or through an electronic pay application like Zelle. In almost every report, the fraudster had an apparently authentic phone number show up on the victim’s caller ID.  The phone number may be a “spoofed” number, which means the number is not coming from the number being displayed and the call is really coming from a completely different number that is not visible to the victim. Other victims reported the calls coming through with blocked numbers.

When some victims caught on to the scam and tried to hang up, the fraudster convinced them to be transferred to an alleged supervisor to confirm the violations. In other instances, the fraudster used real Collier County Sheriff’s Office employee names and badge numbers, or an actual Collier County judge’s name, to convince the victim the violations were real.

Two victims reported that the scammers convinced them to pay the money demanded: one paid $1,800 and another paid $3,500. One victim was convinced to attempt a $10,000 cash withdrawal, which was intercepted quickly by a financial institution employee when they recognized the scam.

Residents are advised to be wary of caller IDs and to never give personal or financial information over the phone to a stranger. Please remember that Florida Clerk’s Offices will never call to demand payments. If you encounter any suspicious calls, please report them immediately.

Here are some tips to follow to avoid being a victim of phone scams:

  • Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. Callers can leave a message, and you can choose whether to return their call.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone if you don’t know or trust the person.
  • If someone is pressuring you to act quickly in sending money, hang up.
  • Ask a relative or friend about the situation. If it seems too good to be true, or you feel intimated, call someone you trust.
  • Call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office hotline, Call Before You “Pay” at (239) 252-CALL (2255). The hotline is staffed Monday-Friday by a member of the Sheriff’s Financial Crimes Bureau.

Clerk Crystal Kinzel’s Office of Inspector General is taking a proactive outreach approach to educate the community on ways to identify and protect themselves from scammers. If your group wants to learn more about fraud prevention, call the Clerk’s OIG at (239) 252-8412 to request information. The same number is also available for reporting incidents of fraud, or callers can report through the 24-hour confidential hotline at 844-ClerkIG (844) 253-7544).  Additional reporting options are shown on the Clerk’s website at CollierClerk.com.