POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A fresh round of spoofing schemes has cost Polk County victims $12,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

“It’s next to impossible ever to chase those people down. If you give your money away that way, it’s bye bye money,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.

The scheme has affected people of all ages recently in Polk County.

Authorities say victims received calls from what they thought were either Lakeland police or the social security office.

They were told their identities had been stolen or linked to a crime.

They’re then instructed to purchase a gift card, for example through Google Play or eBay, or pay in BitCoin.

“(They’ll say) read us the numbers. Then we’ll take those numbers on that card and that’s our payment. Then you’re good to go, we’ll cancel the warrant or you’ll be square with the IRS,” Sheriff Judd explained.

Sheriff Judd reminds residents neither law enforcement nor the social security office will call and ask for personal information over the phone.

“Always say no. Hang up. Or if you want to be real cute, say ‘I tell ya what. I’ll take the money down to the sheriff’s office and you call Grady Judd and if he says give it to you, I’ll give it to you,’” said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd also suggests asking the caller for a call-back number. Then hand that over to law enforcement. Call law enforcement to verify the legitimacy of any call you receive.