Officials: Scammers claiming to be law enforcement, utility employee

The Pinellas and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Offices are warning residents to be aware that phone scammers are claiming to be law enforcement or a Duke Energy employee, trying to get victims to send them money.

In some cases, the caller is claiming to be "Sgt. Jim Gaskins" from Pinellas or "Detective Larry McKinnon" or "Cpl. Larry McKinnon" from Hillsborough.

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The caller then claims the target has an outstanding warrant for jury duty and told if they don't turn themselves in at the sheriff's office, they will be arrested. The target is told to go to the nearest convenience store and buy a pre-paid debit, credit or gift card, and to then provide the numbers on the card to them, saying the warrant will be canceled once the money is paid.

In the other calls, the caller claims to be a Duke Energy employee demanding payment or the target's electricity will be turned off. To avoid losing power, the target is told to buy a debit, credit or gift card and to provide the information on the card.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or has other information on the scam is asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at (727) 582-6200.

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