The Cambrian

Did you get a call claiming there’s a warrant for your arrest in SLO? It’s likely a scam

If you’ve ever confidently answered a phone call because the caller I.D. showed it was someone you know — only it wasn’t — then you’ve been a victim of spoofing (The Cambrian received a recent call like that, supposedly from Hearst Castle!).

Spoofing spammers have the technology to mimic numbers, including those you call or from which you receive calls. Lots of spoofed calls include an attention-getting I.D., such as IRS, banks, credit-card companies, Apple and more.

Now, the county law enforcers are warning about a spoofing phone scam that’s recurring in this county in which the callers claim to be from the Sheriff’s Office, and the caller ID information reportedly confirms that.

Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity,” according to the Federal Communication Commission.

“Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information” and “do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’” The FCC advises.

According to a recent media release from the Sheriff’s Office, the scammer warned the person who answered the phone that “there was a warrant out for their arrest because they failed to appear for jury duty. The caller indicates the resident can clear the warrant by making arrangements to give them a green dot card/prepaid debit card.”

That’s a red flag.

The release stressed that “we want to warn residents these calls have no connection to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office” and “it is not our practice to contact residents by phone regarding these matters. Anyone who receives a call like this should report it to their local law enforcement agency.”

In one case, the release said, “a county resident fell victim to this scam with a reported loss of $800.”

The Sheriff’s message concluded, “Please inform your family and friends about this scam so they can be prepared in the event they receive a call like this.”

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