The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of a telephone scam in which someone purporting to be with the Sheriff’s Office called at least one woman and instructed her to pay $1,800 in back taxes using Wal-Mart gift cards.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said the woman who reported the scam received a call from someone with a foreign accent claiming to be a deputy named Thomas O’Brien. The man told her she was being investigated for failing to pay taxes and would be arrested if she didn’t pay. The number that showed up in her caller ID was the main line for the Sheriff’s Office, (504) 363-5500.

The caller told her to call a number with a 202 area code, where another man with a foreign accent answered and told her to go to Wal-Mart and buy gift cards sufficient to make the payment.

Realizing at this point that the call was a scam, the woman called the Sheriff’s Office.

Fortunato said investigators are working to identify the callers. He said there is no one at the Sheriff’s Office named Thomas O’Brien.

Fortunato said the Sheriff’s Office does not collect money owed to the IRS, nor does it contact by phone anyone who owes local taxes. It does, however, send letters related to local tax debt, and, if necessary, a field agent from the sheriff’s Bureau of Revenue and Taxation will call on the taxpayer in person.

Also, the Sheriff’s Office never conducts phone solicitations asking for donations of any type, he said.