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Washington County sheriff's office warns of new scam targeting sex offenders

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 4:57 PM

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has discovered a new scam in the area that involves extorting registered sex offenders.

The scam involves someone pretending to be a law enforcement officer calling people listed on the registry to “inform them they are non-compliant.”

Scammers ask offenders to go to a store and obtain a money card, such as a pre-paid Visa Vanilla Card or a Green Dot Card. They are then asked to make payments over the phone to prevent authorities from issuing a warrant for their arrest.

“We had a gentleman this morning come into our office asking whether or not what he had experienced was legit, and we quickly realized it was a scam,” Investigator Clint Arnette said Friday. “He had given money because he didn’t want to go to jail.”

Arnette said the man in question “forked over $2,000.” Arnette said he isn’t aware of any similar scams in which the money was successfully traced by authorities.

He said the victim likely believed the scam was legitimate since the scammers knew so much about him through the information provided by the registry.  

“We now think the trend is to target sex offenders because their information is public on the registry,” he said.

Authorities say scams that involve making payments over the phone with pre-paid money cards are common in the region, and they often involve a wide range of stated reasons. Examples include owed money to the IRS, missing a court date or failing to appear for jury duty.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office wants the public to know that it does not solicit payments of any kind over the phone. If you receive a call like this, do not give any information or make any payment to the caller.

For more information on scams like these, visit the Federal Trade Commission website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

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