The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department issued a warning to citizens Wednesday that it is continuing to see a large number of residents who are becoming victims of a phone scam.
On Wednesday, about 25 people at the Sheriff’s Department headquarters reported that they had been contacted directly by the Sheriff’s Department 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.
There have been several hundred phone calls of this sort reported across Santa Barbara County the past several weeks.
The Sheriff’s Department wants to caution residents that these calls are fraudulent and have no connection to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Residents who get a call of this nature should hang up and call the Sheriff’s Department directly to report the incident. The Sheriff's Department reminds citizens that it does not collect money over the phone nor does it notify individuals of outstanding warrants via telephone.
The Sheriff’s Department 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.
— Kelly Hoover is a public information specialist for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.