From Sheriff Dennis Dotson
Scammers are targeting a cash only method of paying bills
A number of Oregon Coast police and sheriff’s departments have received several phone reports from citizens who received phone calls from a man pretending to be a Major with the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office. The man introduced himself as “Major Tom Wilson” and told the victims that they had missed jury duty – and for that they were going to be arrested.
The scammer told the victims that they could avoid going to jail if they would go to Wal-Mart or Walgreens and buy $1000 Green Dot MoneyPak cards. (MoneyPak cards are a cash-based method of sending money.) Residents were told that the cards would pay the fines for failing to appear for jury duty. The scammer instructed the victims to buy the cards, scratch off the numbers on the back and provide those numbers to the suspect. Once the numbers are provided to the suspect, they then have instant access to the cash.
Scammers are increasingly using the method involving the Green Dot MoneyPak Card to target consumers all over the country. There are multiple different versions of this scam. The callers use fear to convince the victims to purchase the cards. Often times they will claim to be from a utility company such as electric, phone, cable, etc. and will tell the caller that their payment is past due and their service will be cut off if they do not obtain the MoneyPak card and pay the amount immediately. In this particular instance in Clatsop County, the victims feared going to jail.
Green Dot MoneyPak cards are legitimate products when used for the right purposes. MoneyPak cards are sold at local convenience stores and some major retailers. They are a convenient way to pay bills online, make purchases via the Internet and reload money onto prepaid cards. The Money Pak cards can only be purchased with cash; therefore consumers never need to disclose their personal or financial information. Scammers like them because they are more convenient than wiring money, but just as untraceable. Once the scammer obtains the numbers on the back of the card, they can drain the funds on the card immediately.
If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be with the police, District Attorney’s Office, or the courts, hang up and report the call to police immediately.