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Phone Scam Alert
updated: Feb 19, 2014, 7:38 PM

UPDATE by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office wants to warn our citizens that we are continuing to see a large number of residents who are becoming victims of a phone scam. Today, February 19, about 25 people at the Sheriff’s Office Main Headquarters reported that they had been contacted directly by the Sheriff’s Office and warned that a warrant was out for their arrest because they did not show up for required jury duty. The caller then demanded the resident use a pre-paid credit card to clear the outstanding warrant. We have had several hundred phone calls of this sort reported across Santa Barbara County the past several weeks. The Sheriff’s Office wants to caution residents that these calls are fraudulent and have no connection to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. If you get a call of this nature, hang up and call the Sheriff’s Office directly to report the incident. We also want to remind residents that we do not collect money over the phone nor do we notify individuals of outstanding warrants via telephone.

The Sheriff’s Office is notifying local merchants who sell pre-paid credit cards of the scam so they can warn potential victims. Because the technology the scammers are using is hard to track, the best way for residents to protect themselves is to be aware.

Other local law enforcement agencies, including the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, are also experiencing issues with a similar if not the same phone scam.


Source: SB County Sheriff's Office

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office wants to warn residents about a nationwide phone scam we are experiencing locally at an increasing level. In the last several weeks, the Sheriff's Office has received a large number of complaints from individuals across Santa Barbara County who have received a phone call that appears to be coming directly from the Sheriff's Office. The caller claims to be a Sheriff's Office employee who is alerting the citizen that they have an outstanding warrant and will be arrested if they don't pay the fine immediately. The caller then instructs the resident to wire money or use a pre-paid credit card to pay the fee.

Because through caller identification manipulation, the call displays as coming from the main number at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and the caller gives personal information about the resident they have found on-line, the call can seem legitimate. Unfortunately, we have had several cases of residents who have taken these calls seriously and forwarded funds to the scammer. Even in the cases where the residents didn't actually become victims, most felt threatened enough to call and verify the claim with the Sheriff's Office which is the recommended course of action.

The Sheriff's Office wants to remind residents that it is not the practice of the agency to call residents who have warrants. If you receive a phone call of this nature, you should immediately call the Sheriff's Office or any other law enforcement agency where the caller claims to be calling from to verify the information. We caution residents never to give out personal or financial information over the phone.

Santa Barbara County is one of many communities in several states across the country recently who have experienced phone calls from scammers posing as local law enforcement officials and threatening residents to pay a fee for an arrest warrant.



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