An incident out of Middlesex County has prompted Mercer County officials to warn residents not to fall for a phone scam from someone claiming to be a cop.

According to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, a victim in Cranbury Township received a call on April 20 from a number purporting to be the prosecutor's office. The caller falsely claimed to be "Sergeant Whitlock" and said the resident had a warrant for their arrest.

The caller directed the victim to drive to a local store to purchase gift cards, the prosecutor's office said.

Law enforcement is familiar with this type of scam. Morris County officials are reminding the public that police will never ask for payment over the phone, and government agencies and courts will never ask for payment by unusual methods such as gift cards, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency.

"Scammers often research their potential victims on the internet and social media," the prosecutor's office said in a press release. "Scammers may spoof a law enforcement telephone number, falsely showing on the victim's caller ID."

These spoofed phone numbers can't always be easily traced by law enforcement, the prosecutor's office said.

Anyone in Mercer County who receives a call that's supposedly coming from a law enforcement agency should confirm who's actually calling, officials said. To be safe, residents can hang up and call the main line of the police department or prosecutor's office to determine whether the call was legitimate.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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