The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office wants to warn citizens that they are continuing to see a large number of residents who are becoming victims of a phone scam. On 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. The S.O. has 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. They also want to remind residents that they do not collect money over the phone nor do they 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.