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New Wave Of Phone Scams Accuse Victims Of Legal Violations

Daniel Gregory

Scam artists are calling up Lane County residents, accusing them of unpaid citations, outstanding warrants, or failing to appear for jury duty.  Victims are then told they can fix things by buying gift cards.

Carrie Carver is a spokeswoman for the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. She says the scammers claim to be with her office, or the U.S. Marshal’s Office, Civil Division.  She says that’s the first tip off that it’s a fake call.

“The Sheriff’s Office in particular doesn’t make phone calls to folks regarding warrants," Carver tells KLCC.  "If you have a warrant, we’ll probably just show up at your door. 

"Scammers tend to be extremely pushy and impatient over the phone.  A lot of times they’ll give you a callback number. They’ll have a voice message machine that says, “You’ve reached the Lane County Sheriff’s Office…”  What we really want people to do, is find the publicly listed number for that agency and verify that the call was legitimate.” 

Credit Martin Cathrae / Flickr.com

The scammers usually ask for $1,000 - 3,000 worth of gift cards, which they then request the numbers from. 

Carver says if the victim can’t buy that amount, the scammers then negotiate the price…something else authorities wouldn’t do in an actual call.

Two phone numbers used in the scam calls are 541-357-3302 and 541-327-9121.  If you’ve lost money as a result of a scam, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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