San Diego doctor warns of scam call mimicking sheriff’s official: ‘They are really aggressive’

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SAN DIEGO – A San Diego-area doctor is warning others after she nearly became a victim of a so-called phone scam that has drawn the attention of the county’s Sheriff’s Department.

Dr. Puja Vora is warning others after she nearly became a victim of a so-called phone scam that has drawn the attention of the county’s Sheriff’s Department.

“They are really aggressive,” Dr. Puja Vora told FOX 5. “They’re talking fast, listing all these things off and not really giving you details or a chance to ask. It’s threatening. It’s scary.”

Vora said she received a call Tuesday night from a San Diego number. At the other end of the line, a man’s voice introduced himself as “Lt. Hartman” with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. He even provided her with a badge number.

The man told Vora that two uniformed officers had come to her work and that he’d given the exact address.

“He said they had a subpoena for me to appear as an expert witness in a medical case and that I signed for,” she said.

It isn’t a new story for sheriff’s officials. Last month, the department issued a warning to the public to beware of an arrest warrant phone scam reported by six people. They say a Lt. Hartman told people they missed a court date and that they should come to the sheriff’s headquarters alone.

“This is a scam,” the department said last month.

According to the caller, Vora was supposed to appear in court in November, but she didn’t show up. The man then said there now was a warrant for Vora’s arrest.

Vora is, in fact, a doctor at the location the man gave and he’d called her personal number, making it more convincing. Vora said she was told she’d need to come to the sheriff’s department headquarters in Kearny Mesa immediately to clear up the situation.

“I started to ask more questions like, ‘What’s the address again? Can you give me the badge number? What’s your name again?’” she said.

Ultimately, she says the man grew angry and told her she would need to figure things out without his help, that she would be arrested and then hung up.

Vora has heard of at least one other doctor in Southern California who recently received a similar call.

“The specifics they gave, the ‘expert witness for a medical case because of your expertise’ and things like that,” she said. “They really use that personal info to get to you.”

Of note, the sheriff’s department wants people to know warrants can’t be resolved over the phone or at the department headquarters. They only would be able to be cleared through the courts.

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