JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) is warning the public of a phone scam involving claims of charges on Amazon accounts.

According to the WCSO, the scam involves residents receiving a call from someone claiming to be from Amazon. The caller states multiple charges were made on the resident’s account.

The scammer then instructs the resident to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash to purchase prepaid cards, then call the scammer back with the card numbers. In one instance, a victim was instructed to deposit funds using a money transfer company via an ATM.

“So far, we know of at least $18,000 lost to this particular scam since June,” said Sheriff Sexton. “In one instance, the caller transferred the victim’s call to an individual that claimed to work for the U.S. Marshals Service. No law enforcement agency will ever call and ask you for money.”

The WCSO and the Federal Trade Commission provided tips to keep the public safe from scam calls:

  • Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know. Common scams mention Amazon, utility companies and government agencies like Social Security or Medicare.
  • Scammers will usually say there’s a problem with your account or that you or a relative owe a large sum of money. Other scams include: saying you’ve won the lottery or sweepstakes but require you to pay a fee.
  • Scammers pressure you into acting immediately. The pressure will often include arrest threats or charging you with a crime.
  • Scammers want payment in a specific way. They often instruct people to withdraw cash from their accounts to purchase prepaid gift cards or send money through a transfer company.

Sheriff Sexton warns people to “never give personal financial information over the phone if you didn’t initiate the call.”

“When you get a call demanding money, hang up and call local law enforcement,” Sheriff Sexton said. “We can put your mind at ease, especially if the caller threatens arrest.”

If you’re a resident of Washington County and receive a call described above, contact the WCSO at (423) 788-1414.