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Over the past few weeks residents of Shasta County have been receiving fictitious telephone calls from individuals identifying themselves as Shasta County Deputy Sheriffs. The caller states that you have a warrant for your arrest regarding various crimes or for missing jury duty. They may also tell you a relative is in jail and in need of bail money or that you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Most of the time the calls come up on caller ID as a mobile phone with a local area code to appear more legitimate. Prepaid mobile phones can be purchased anywhere with a local area code assigned. In many of these cases the callers are from out of state or out of the country. In the recent cases in Shasta County the caller has a southern accent.
These telephone scams are occurring nationwide. Citizens should be suspicious of any caller who identifies themselves as a law enforcement official or government employee and then demands a “fine” be paid immediately over the telephone via credit/debit card or pre-paid cards (i.e. Green Dot cards). These callers are reportedly intimidating and threatening when demanding fines be paid immediately. Law enforcement officials do not call people and demand that fines be paid immediately over the telephone.
If you receive a telephone call from someone impersonating a law enforcement official and have caller I.D., record the telephone number, ask the caller for their name, badge number, agency they are employed, their call back telephone number, and the court or case number they are calling about. Tell them you will call their agency and hang up. Do not provide any credit/debit card or pre-paid debit card information to these callers. Also, do not provide any of your personal identity information.
Be vigilant in protecting your personal identity information from both telephone and email scams. Even if you have committed an infraction that could result in a fine, law enforcement officials do not contact you by telephone to collect payment. Law enforcement officials do not require anyone to provide sensitive information in a telephone call, including requests for credit card numbers. It is a crime for anyone to falsely represent himself or herself as a law enforcement official.
Many victims of these scams are elderly. If you see or hear of someone trying to purchase prepaid cards for the purpose of paying fines over the phone please inquire and advise them of the possibility this could be a scam and refer them to their local law enforcement agency. Working together in cooperation to protect citizens from being victims of these crimes will deter these criminals from targeting our area and assist law enforcement in identifying them.
If you have additional questions regarding protecting yourself and your family from telephone or email scams, visit a federal, state, or local law enforcement website for educational materials on how to protect your personal identity information from criminals:
www.IRS.GOV More info on scams, click on “Tax Scams” under “News/Events.”
www.stopfraud.gov Federal Government Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. This website will point you to what agency you need to report your fraud. They will have a link for tax fraud, insurance fraud, identity theft, and many more. The website also contains information on how to avoid different scams.
www.fraud.org is from the National Consumer League and is a website designated to provide you information on current fraud scams and how to obtain information.
www.FBI.GOV The Federal Bureau of Investigations will investigate common fraud scams, investment related scams, internet scams, and Senior Citizen scams.
For internet related scams specifically please go to www.IC3.GOV The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to file a report. www.OAG.CA.GOV State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General which has information on identity theft crimes and will provide resources for e-crimes.
http://www.co.shasta.ca.us/index/sheriff_index/submit_online_report.aspx Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Online Reporting System.