The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of recent phone scams. Most recently, a citizen was told a Sheriff’s deputy was calling to say his Publishers Clearing House winning notice had been found and that he needed to purchase a bond and send it through Western Union in order to claim his prize. When the citizen expressed uncertainty about the location of Western Union, the scammer convinced him to provide his credit card information.
The Sheriff’s Office also received complaints from many residents contacted by scammers pretending to represent the IRS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or a law enforcement agency and claiming they owed money to the government. The nationwide phone scam targets Indian Americans and South Asian Americans. The callers typically quote the last four digits of the victim’s social security number and threaten deportation and/or jail time if the resident does not immediately pay with a credit card. The IRS advises victims of this scam to report it at (800) 829-1040.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office urges residents never to provide personal or financial information over the phone. It further states the Sheriff’s Office never collects payment over the phone; any calls like this are fraudulent and should be reported immediately.