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East Central Illinois phone scams

East Central Illinois phone scams. (WCCU)

Over the weekend, someone called Chief Deputy Allen Jones with the Champaign County Sheriff's Office, threatening to put him behind bars.

"I routinely on my own cell phone will get the phone call from the IRS tax warrant that has been issued for my arrest,” Chief Deputy Jones said.

Since he works for the Sheriff's Office, he knew it was a scam, but not everyone is that lucky. There have been numerous scam calls reported in the area.

"They told me all the things that were wrong with my computer and wanted to charge me to a fee for straightening out my computer,” Urbana resident David Peters said.

Chief Deputy Jones' biggest tip to dealing with those demanding money is to not be in a hurry.

"Even if you are in arrears, simply say you know what, I don't know that I am but give me a number where I can call back and confirm who I'm speaking with,” Jones said.

You can also request an invoice or offer to pay the bill online.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to these scams. Peters says you need to watch out for red flags and go with your gut instincts.

"The clue was when they started telling me all these things wrong with my computer and I really needed someone to straighten it out,” Peters said.

Law enforcement say they don't think these scammers will stop anytime soon, as long as they keep getting paid.

"If they make a thousand calls a day, pick up one to two to three people and they pick up $2,000 to 3,000 a pop, that's a pretty good days work for somebody that's scamming,” Jones said.

The Federal Trade Commission says if you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t pick up. Wait for the voicemail and call back. Also, hang up on anyone claiming you have won a prize or have been selected for a special offer. If the person on the other end asks you to decide on something right away, that’s also a warning sign.

One way you can prevent phone scams is by registering for the National Do Not Call List. You can do that here.

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