Scammers claiming to be with the Oregon State Police (OSP) placed phone calls during the last seven days to a victim, an adult Hispanic male from Forest Grove, threatening to arrest him if he didn't pay for a supposed warrant that the caller said existed. After providing his bank account number over the phone, the frightened victim reported he bought a Green Dot MoneyPak card to make a payment. OSP and the Oregon Department of Justice warn these calls are fraudulent and should be ignored.
On June 7, 2013, OSP got a report of the scam when the victim reported receiving phone calls starting last Friday, May 31, from a man with a foreign accent saying he was with the Oregon State Police. The caller said there was a warrant out for the victim's arrest, threatening that if the victim didn't call a "James Brown" at a provided number in the "210" area code then OSP would issue another warrant for his arrest. The victim said the caller knew the last four digits of the victim's social security number.
The victim provided his bank account number to the caller, but because there was insufficient funds to cover the full amount demanded by the caller, the victim borrowed $150 and purchased a Green Dot MoneyPak card. The victim then called "James Brown" back at the number provided, gave the Green Dot card information and was told if he didn't pay the remaining amount then another warrant would be issued for the victim's arrest. The victim later found out that someone did access his bank account and withdrew money.
An OSP Criminal Investigation Division detective is being assigned to investigate this reported crime.
Since November 2012, OSP received a few complaints from citizens regarding similar telephone calls from individuals claiming to be with OSP demanding money in exchange for dropping criminal charges or clearing arrest warrants. Similar cases have also involved callers using titles of "Officer" and "Deputy".
OSP reminds you to be aware that:
* OSP or any other legitimate law enforcement agency does not call citizens seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations or warrants.
* OSP does not call individuals and demand money from citizens under any circumstances.
* Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to forward money.
The Oregon Judicial Department advises that courts may use an independent collection service to collect unpaid monetary judgments and fines. If someone believes they are being scammed regarding an alleged unpaid traffic citation or other court-imposed financial obligation they can:
* Ask the collector (caller) for information specific to the alleged warrant or unpaid traffic citation. The caller should have the court case number, date of ticket and vehicle license number.
* Verify the debt or confirm other details by calling the OJD collections hotline at 1-888-564-2828.
* Use OJD Courts ePay to directly pay money owed to state courts for most traffic citations, civil fees or criminal fines (For more information go to www.courts.oregon.gov/OJD/OnlineServices/ePay/Pages/index.aspx.
Green Dot MoneyPak cards and similar cash-load cards have been the focus of scammers around the country to defraud unsuspecting people. Avoid reacting to requests requiring you to purchase MoneyPaks, but if you do purchase one for any reason treat it like cash because unlike credit cards, MoneyPak transactions can never be reversed.
The Green Dot Corporation is aware of similar scams and has a link on their website to tips from the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (StopFraud.gov).
If you receive a similar call, disconnect without providing any information or taking any instructions from the caller. Contact your local Police Department, Sheriff's Office or Oregon State Police. You may also file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office via the Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or complete an online Consumer Complaint Form anytime at http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/complaint.aspx.