Scammers Pose as JCSO Employees, Demand Money (Photo)
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Scammers posing as officials from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) are using familiar tactics with a new twist in an attempt to scam people out of money. On December 18, 2018, deputies began receiving reports from people contacted by phone by men identifying themselves as JCSO employees.
The scam caller claims the intended victim has a warrant for failing to appear in court, and then demands payment for fines. The caller provides a phone number for the person to call back with payment. After payment is made by phone, the victim is directed to appear at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
One victim appeared in JCSO lobby on the morning of December 19 and reported she paid $2500 to someone who called her and identified himself as a JCSO employee. She was directed to purchase prepaid debit cards and provide the numbers to the scammer over the phone. When the woman reported in person to JCSO, she learned it was a scam. Others have called to report the scam, but did not lose money.
“We’ve seen scams like this before,” said Sergeant Julie Denney. “But this one is different because the scammers are also using an official-sounding recording to trick people into believing that JCSO is taking payments over the phone.”
If a person calls back the original phone number that appeared on the victim’s Caller ID, they are greeted by a computerized voice identifying as the “Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.” The scam recording (follow link for recording) states that the agency no longer accepts payments for fines and restitution via cash, checks, or credit/debit cards – only by a “secure electronic voucher system.” The recording then directs the caller to press a number to be connected with a live person.
“It’s during that one-on-one contact with the scammer that people are manipulated into believing they have a warrant and need to pay their fines to avoid being arrested,” said Sergeant Denney.
JCSO officials say it’s important for people to know that their employees will never call people to let them know they have warrants or to request any form of payment. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not request payment by prepaid debit cards.
Officials also remind people to not focus too much on specific scam tactics; scammers often change their methods over time:
- Scammers can easily obtain new phone numbers and will change them often.
- Scammers may use “spoof” programs to make the Caller ID show an agency’s actual phone number.
- Scammers may use the names of actual JCSO employees to make the call seem legitimate.
- Scammers may obtain personal information about a victim online including their name, address, phone number, and the names of others in the home.
- Scammers may initially contact victims by mail, email, or through social media.
Sergeant Denney says prevention is the most important way for citizens to battle scams. Due to the technology used in the scam – and the fact that scammers can be located anywhere in the world – it is virtually impossible to track the scammers or to get money back.
“If anyone has any question about a possible scam call, they should call dispatch at (541) 776-7206 and ask to speak to a deputy,” said Sergeant Denney. “The most important thing is to not send any money.”
For more information about common scams, go to the Federal Trade Commission website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts . People can also sign up for consumer alerts and scam updates by email.