Countywide over the past several days, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has received “a large number of reports” of a phone scam, often targeting the elderly, in which the caller introduces himself as a Sheriff’s deputy and tells the receiver that he or she has been targeted for arrest because of missed jury duty, according to a statement issued Tuesday evening.
The caller offers to resolve the warrant if the citizen funds a prepaid credit card and provides the number during a follow-up call. In at least one case, after obtaining the card number, the caller offered to meet in person at the Sheriff’s Office but was not there when the victims arrived. Caller ID numbers in these cases appear to be coming directly from the Sheriff’s Office main line — (805) 681-4100 — but according to spokesperson Kelly Hoover, “caller I.D. manipulation is just another trick these callers have up their sleeve.”
According to the statement, “If you receive a phone call of this nature, you should immediately hang up and call the Sheriff’s Office or any other law enforcement agency. The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind residents that our agency does not call residents over the phone to notify them of a warrant nor do we take any payments of any kind over the phone. Never give your personal or financial information over the phone.”
The Sheriff’s Office is encouraging seniors to attend upcoming “Scams Targeting Seniors” presentations in Goleta, hosted by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. The first will be held at 5:30 p.m. on August 21 at the Positano Community Room, 11 Camino de Vida; the other at 2 p.m. on August 22 at Miller Community Center, 5579 Armitos Avenue.