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Phone scams continue to plague residents

Scammers threaten arrest or other phony consequence unless payments made


Washington County Sheriff's OfficeLocal law enforcement agencies said residents continue to be plagued by scam callers who threaten residents with a supposed warrant, missed jury duty or other financial issues and demanding payment to solve the phony problem.

The scammer calls a phone number claiming to be a law enforcement officer, a federal agency employee or a utility company employee.

If the conversation progresses, the suspect tells victims they face some sort of negative consequence, such as arrest or having their power shut off, said Sgt. Bob Ray, spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The suspect then tells the victim to buy a Green Dot or other prepaid card for a specified amount to pay the fine or bill.

When the victim has the card, the suspect arranges a location to meet and acquire the card to fulfill the obligation, Ray said.

However, prior to the agreed meeting time, the suspect calls the victim back and request the "secret" number on the back of the card to confirm the funds. Once that number is given, the suspect steals the funds, Ray said.

Ray said that law enforcement agencies never call demanding money. If someone calls and attempts to convince you there is a warrant for your arrest, missed jury duty or unpaid taxes, Ray said the best course is to never send money in any form to someone you don't know. Instead, obtain the agency's accurate contact information from a source you trust and call them directly to discuss allegations.

These scams include variations where scammers call or email with the promise of something in exchange for cash, Green Dot prepaid cards, money wires or another form of payment.

These are all considered attempts to cheat you out of your money, Ray said. Prepaid cash cards are considered as good as cash.

Also note that any phone solicited allegation that involves urgency is highly likely to be a scam. Ray said investigators are seeking the public's help regarding similar scam cases. If you have any information, or have recently received a solicitation that seemed suspicious, please call the Washington County Sheriff's Office at 503-629-0111.