Sarasota Police warn drivers of red light camera citation scam

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- There's a new phone scam going around the Suncoast, and it revolves around red light cameras. ABC 7 talked to one woman Thursday who shared her story on how she was almost scammed.

The Sarasota Police Department says this is the first time they've heard of this scam revolving around red light cameras happening in the area. Fortunately, for the target in this incident, she knew exactly what to do.

You could say Melanie Gochnauer is wise beyond her years. The 20-year-old from Sarasota was recently targeted by a phone scammer. “He told me that I had an $80 ticket for running a red light, and it was taken using one of the traffic cameras, and if I didn't pay it by 5:30, my license was going to be suspended.”

Cool and collected, the man over the phone, with a 941 area code, sounded legit. “At first, I was kind of nervous because I didn’t get a first or second notice.”

But Gochnauer quickly became suspicious. “He told me to go to Walmart and get a Green Dot MoneyPak and put the money on there and pay that way.

Instead, Gochnauer hung up the phone and called Sarasota Police.

They told her this: “If you get a violation, you get it in the mail. If you don’t pay the violation, the 2nd violation you will get in the mail. We never call.”

Now police are investigating, and Gochnauer is sharing her story to make sure no one falls for the same phone call. “I think a lot of girls my age would act out of fear in this situation and would pay the money. It makes me feel confident in myself that I know when something is going on that's not right.”

If you receive any sort of call saying you owe money, hang up and call your local police.