TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office is warning local residents about an increase in fraudulent phone calls in recent months in which people try to collect money, claiming to be members of the sheriff’s office.

The phone calls are coming from local numbers and use names of people at the sheriff’s office to solicit money. In several cases the phone number — 607-216-6196 — has stayed the same, the sheriff’s office said. The scammers have called alleging the person has missed court dates, summons or a warrant for arrest.

Reports have indicated the fraudulent callers are male and may identify themselves as “Lieutenant Donahue or Lieutenant Robertson.” Though there is Lt. Donahue employed by the sheriff’s office, the sheriff’s office says it will not call people “in an attempt to solicit money in this fashion.” People who receive such calls are urged not to give any personal information or money.

Related: These were the top scams of 2017. Here’s how to avoid them in 2018.

The sheriff’s office says if anyone receives a suspicious call asking for funds to be transferred, given via gift card or to meet at a specific location, to hang up, file a report and block the number.

As with similar scams, like the IRS scam, the sheriff’s office will not contact people in any of the ways listed above. However, the deputy sheriff’s union does do fundraising. That fundraising comes in the form of a letter or a phone call, but funds will not be collected via transfer or gift card.

If anyone receives a suspicious call and has doubts about its authenticity, contact the sheriff’s office main line at 607-257-1345 or the non-emergency line to Dispatch at 607-272-2444.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.