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Scammers posing as sheriff's deputies calling local residents, officials warn

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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about a phone scam in which the caller poses as a sheriff's deputy.

Investigators say the scammers tell the person who answers the phone that there is a bench warrant issued for their arrest because they did not show up for jury duty, and to resolve the warrant, they must purchase a pre-paid credit card and give the caller the card number.

Sheriff's officials say they've received a large number of reports about the scam in the past several days. In some cases, they say, the scammer has used the name of a real deputy and the calls appear to be coming directly from the Sheriff's Office.

Don't let this fool you, they warn. Even if it appears the number is coming from an 805 area code, investigators say it's easy for scammers to fake that information. 

The Sheriff's Office says it does not call residents over the phone to notify them of a warrant or take payments over the phone. They say, if you do receive a call like this, hang up and call the Sheriff's Office or whichever law enforcement agency the caller claimed to represent to verify the information. You can also report phone scams by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or by visiting the agency's website.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office is holding two upcoming presentations targeted toward seniors, which will include tips on how to recognize a scam and avoid becoming a victim:

  • August 21 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Positano Community Room, 11 Camino de Vido, Goleta
  • August 22 - 2 p.m. - 3 p.m., Miller Community Center, 5579 Armitos Avenue, Goleta

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