Umatilla Co. Sheriff not fooled by call from phone scammers - KPTV - FOX 12

Umatilla Co. Sheriff not fooled by call from phone scammers

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Many people get unwanted calls from phone scammers, but one scammer made a huge mistake and dialed the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.

Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan received a call on Tuesday morning from a woman saying he had won a first place prize of $2.5 million.

Rowan said the woman spoke in broken English with a Jamaican accent and identified herself as Mary Elizabeth from Publisher’s Clearing House.

Mary Elizabeth proceed to give Rowan a claim number and a phone number and told him to immediately call her manager to make arrangements for delivery.

After many disconnected phone calls, Rowan said he reached a man supposedly in Las Vegas who claimed to be John Baker.

Baker had a different story and told Rowan he had won $950,000 and a 2016 Mercedes Benz.

Rowan, knowing this was a scam from the very beginning, gave Baker an address for delivery.

Baker told Rowan to drive to the closest Walmart to meet the truck carrying his prizes.

But Rowan was told he would have to pay a $499 application fee before he could receive any of his winnings. 

Baker said he would stay on the line until Rowan had reached the Walmart in order to verify that Rowan had paid the application fee.  

At this point, Rowan decided to reveal who he was. 

“I explained to Mr. Baker that I am a Sheriff,” said Rowan. “I told him if he had checked my address, or searched the internet, he would have learned that the address belongs to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.”

Rowan tried to get more personal information from Baker and told him that he was going to do everything in his power to locate him and stop his scamming.

The phone line then, no surprise, went dead.

Rowan said phone scammers can appear to be banks, the IRS, or organizations who give away money.

He would like to remind Oregon residents that if they receive any calls from unfamiliar people asking for personal information, hang up the phone immediately and call local police.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

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