GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The tactic is becoming a familiar one — scammers calling up random people while pretending to be someone with law enforcement, then using intimidation in order to gain payment. While there are always slight variations, the Josephine County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) said that the scam is back on their turf.
According to JCSO, they started receiving multiple reports of the scam on Tuesday. The callers said that they'd been getting phone calls from a man claiming to be a deputy or detective with the Sheriff's Office. He would provide a phone number, then tell the potential victims that they had an arrest warrant "due to missed jury duty."
How does one avoid certain arrest, you ask? Why, simply buy a prepaid Fred Meyer gift card and leave the details at the number provided: 541-644-2154
"When calling the scam number you will hear a recording that appears to be from a Deputy or Detective from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office with an automated voice recording," JCSO said. "This is a scam and should not be mistaken for our phone system which is the actual voice of our Sheriff Dave Daniel and offers relevant options for divisions within our office. We do not have an option to pay by phone for any service."
In fact, if you call the number you'll hear it ring a few times (as if someone might, in fact, answer) before the voice message kicks on — apparently recorded in the middle of an audibly busy "Sheriff's Office" by an officer with a pleasant, gravely Southern twang named "Mike McCallister." Mike will entreat you to leave a message, or dial 911 if it's an emergency.
"Law enforcement does not operate in this fashion," JCSO said. "Funds are NOT solicited by law enforcement from citizens to avoid arrest. The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind citizens to remain vigilant and report any potential scams that come their way. Persons should never provide financial or personal information to anyone until they are certain who they are speaking to."
A near-identical scam sprang up in Josephine County in May of last year, while another version of the scam targeted Jackson County residents just months ago in December.