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Fake ‘Deputy Hart’ Calling Kentucky Schools Targeting Teachers

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Consumer Affairs
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Following reports from Kentucky teachers in Franklin, Jefferson and Whitley counties, Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a scam alert to warn of a new scam targeting Kentucky school systems and teachers.

Beshear said his office has recently received multiple reports of a “Deputy Hart” calling schools asking to speak with a specific teacher who allegedly has an outstanding warrant or missed jury duty. School officials have been threatened with “obstruction charges” if the scammer is not given information or allowed to speak with the teacher. Once on the phone with the victim, the scammer requests payment via gift cards to resolve the legal matter and avoid arrest. 

“While this scam is similar to the widespread jury duty scam, now there is a troubling new twist that indicates scammers are targeting teachers through social media,” Beshear said. “It is despicable that at a time when our teachers are focused on returning to their classrooms to educate children they are being targeted by scammers. I want to make sure every teacher is aware of this scam and takes steps to protect their information online.”

Reports indicate that the scam call is spoofed appearing to be from a local area code and one victim said the scammer pressured her to purchase $2,500 in gift cards, but ultimately she did not fall victim.

Beshear’s office has been in contact with each school district, local officials and the Department of Education and is asking teachers and school district employees to follow these tips to avoid falling victim to the scam.

•Change your privacy settings

Be aware that con artists may use the information that is publicly available on social media against you. Consider adjusting your privacy settings to protect key information about you and your family.

•Verify the call

A scammer may call from a spoofed phone number and pretend to have information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials, courthouse addresses and phone numbers. Never trust the caller and always verify information independently before making a payment.

•Never pay over the phone using gift cards or reloadable credit cards  

Scammers typically use gift cards and reloadable cards as their preferred method of payment because they are almost impossible to track and recover. Know that legitimate local authorities will not ask you to pay using these methods.

One of Beshear’s top priorities is to protect Kentucky consumers, especially senior citizens from scams, abuse and exploitation.

Since taking office, Beshear has repeatedly warned of jury duty and similar warrant scams. Since the beginning of 2019, the office has already received 23 reports of these scams in Breckinridge, Campbell, Fayette, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Kenton, Ohio, Owen and Shelby counties, with losses totaling nearly $2,000.

Beshear’s office caught and convicted a Florida man posing as a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy who was ordered to pay thousands of dollars to the two victims.

To report a scam contact the Office of the Attorney General at 888-432-9257 and file a complaint online.

(provided by Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Attorney General)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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