SUNBURY - Sheriff Robert Wolfe and Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts Justin Dunkelberger warned the public Tuesday that a telephone scam is being perpetrated to illegally collect court costs owed to Northumberland County.

The county officials said the perpetrators identify themselves as a clerk in the prothonotary's office and tell citizens that deputy sheriffs are on their way to collect money for debts to the county.

On Aug. 22, personnel in the sheriff and prothonotary offices investigated several reported incidents and discovered them to be part of a scam perpetrated by a group of individuals from New York state.

Anyone who receives such a call should immediately contact the proper authorities.

Wolfe and Dunkelberger warned residents not to make any payments over the telephone or otherwise to the perpetrators.

Approximately $260,000 in court costs owed to Northumberland County since 1971 has been collected during the past month while authorities continue to crack down on delinquents.

The prothonotary updated the media on the collection process following last week's commissioners' meeting in which Commissioner Vinny Clausi praised the joint effort spearheaded by Dunkelberger, chief adult probation officer Jim Cortelyou, Wolfe and President Judge William H. Wiest and their respective staffs.

Probation officers and deputy sheriffs have conducted four "blitzes" in the past several weeks in an effort to recover as much money as possible of the $22.8 million in court costs owed to the county since 1965.

Dunkelberger said the $260,000 in restitution to victims includes $9,313 in cash from delinquents during home visits. Another 78 promissory notes involving payments totaling more than $300,000 also have been obtained.

He said 70 active cost warrants have been lifted thus far as a result of the "blitzes."