The McMinn County Sheriff's Department is warning area residents about a recent phone scam where the caller is impersonating law enforcement and local authorities.

McMinn Sheriff Joe Guy says the scammers are using his name, or the name of other county leaders, to extort money. Sheriff Guy said the callers tell their victims they owe money for a court fine, and threaten to arrest the victims if they don't cooperate. Guy said the scammers instruct the victims to pay with a credit card, which they use to access that person's money.

The department says more than 100 people have already received the calls, which often target the elderly. Some victims lost between $500-$1000.

"It's a new spin on an old scam," Sheriff Guy in an emailed statement. "The scammers are using the good name of our office to extort money out of our citizens."

The Sheriff's office said does not collect fines and does not make phone calls to threaten arrest about an unpaid fine. The department also does not ask people to pay for fines with a self-paid credit card.

Anyone who receives this type of call is encouraged to call 911 immediately and report the number where the call is coming from to authorities.