CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Social workers in Ohio are now the target of an intricate scam, which has officials warning anyone who works in health services to watch out.
The scam starts when a social worker’s phone rings.
“The person says that they are with the police," Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter Danielle Smith said. "Their number looks like and matches the police department.”
One woman who nearly fell victim said the caller told her there is a bench warrant for her arrest because she “failed to show up as a witness in a case involving a minor.”
“At one point, the social worker said, ‘I need to talk to your supervisor,’ and they actually had someone that they transferred her to who said that he was a lieutenant, and that person’s name who they gave matched the lieutenant for the local police department," Smith said.
In a threatening tone, the con artist reportedly told the woman that she had to pay $1000 in fines or risk being arrested.
“They use a lot of fear tactics to keep the person on the line, and ultimately as we’ve heard, to keep them to the point that they go to the bank to withdraw cash and transfer it to a bail bond," Smith said.
After noticing red flags, the woman said she did her own research and ultimately hung up the phone. However, Smith said not everyone has been as lucky.
“I think we probably heard from nearly a dozen social workers who have been victims of the same type of scam, and I would say about half of those actually were scammed," Smith said. "They sent in large amounts of money.”
Officials believe the scammers are using information from online health databases to help them do their dirty work.
“If you’re able to do such a sophisticated scam, that there’s a lot of other work that you could do that would be a benefit to our society instead of something that is really draining from a profession trying to do so much for so many," Smith said.
Smith said the scam has been affecting social workers all over the state of Ohio and in some neighboring states.
The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to protect yourself from scams on its website.