Police are warning Oregonians about a telephone scam in which callers pose as Oregon State Police officers and demand money in exchange for dropping criminal charges or arrest warrants.
In the past week, two people from the Portland area have received such calls, leading OSP criminal investigators to warn all Oregonians to be aware of the scam. "It's not a very sophisticated scam," said OSP Lt. Mark Cotter of the agency's Criminal Investigation Division. "Unfortunately, there are people who have fallen for similar things.
"Hopefully, they won't be successful because it does seem pretty far-fetched," Cotter said. "It's definitely not legit."
Both cases involved male callers with foreign accents whose caller identification said 911, the OSP said. The caller identified himself as a member of the OSP, using titles such as officer or deputy, and provided call-back numbers of 410-387-7748 or 215-302-3662, police said.
The victims were told to call the number within a certain timeframe to arrange payment to clear the arrest warrant or cancel a pending court appearance, police said.
The scam is similar to others reported elsewhere in the United States. No legitimate police agency would demand payments over the telephone, Cotter said, but not everyone in the public would understand that.
"There could have been other calls throughout the state that we don't know about," Cotter said.
Anyone who receives such a call is encouraged to hang up without providing any information and to contact their local police department or the OSP. Targeted victims also are encouraged to file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office by calling 1-877-877-9392. Complaint forms also can be filled out online at www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/complaint.aspx.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.