Erie County Officials Warn The Public Of Alleged 'Government Imposter' Telephone Scams Asking Residents To Send Them Money

Modified: July 30, 2018 2:55pm

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Erie County officials are putting the public on notice after being alerted by some county residents of reported “government imposter” telephone scams that involve incoming telemarketing “spoof” calls that appear to be from a county government agency or office but in reality are deceptive efforts by someone to obtain money.

By pretending to be government officials, some of the alleged scams involve offers that promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees to have the money released and threats of arrest or the filing of a lawsuit if you do not pay a supposed debt.

The recent calls involve the use of phone numbers that appear to be from the (716) area code and start with the first three digits 8-5-8. Telephones that utilize incoming-call identification features have seen the label “ERIE-COUNTY, OF” appear on their Caller ID screens.

“Regardless of their tactics or what they say to you on the phone, the goal of these scams if to get you to send them money,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Don’t do it. County government employees never ask people to send money for prizes, unpaid loans or fines, nor would they ever ask someone to wire money or add funds to a prepaid debit card. If someone makes any attempt to sell you something or asks you for money, immediately hang up the phone and end the call.”

Poloncarz reminds Erie County residents that government offices that do call constituents will continue to do so, but he asks that everyone be extra vigilant in light of the recent reports of government imposter phone scammers looking to take advantage of people, particularly senior citizens.

“We don’t want to have people not answering phone calls from our employees, especially constituents who utilize services from our different agencies and departments,” said Poloncarz. “What we ask is that people use common sense and follow our advice of immediately ending a phone call if someone who identifies themself as an Erie County employee makes any attempt to sell them something, makes a request for money or threatens them with arrest or a lawsuit if they don’t comply with their demands. In addition, anyone who receives a phone call that they believe was from a government imposter can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.”

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To file a complaint with the FTC, visit