PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The Portland Police Bureau has issued a fraud alert relating to a phone call scam that seems to be targeting Oregon real estate agents.
According to the bureau, two incidents of the scam have been reported – one in Bend and the other in Eugene – from people in the real estate industry.
In the scam, the caller has identified themselves as a member of the bureau, using an actual sergeant’s name, and then requested urgent action due to a warrant for the person’s arrest, asking for money to pay bail for the fake warrant.
“I got a couple of voicemails from people who said that I had left them a message,” Sgt. Pete Simpson told FOX 12.
Simpson said he wants people to know he, nor any other member of the Bureau, makes collection calls for fines or warrants.
The sergeant warned that the scam may be believed, because the scammer or scammers aren’t just using his name.
“When your caller ID pops up, it looks like a City of Portland phone number,” Simpson said.
Police said the callback number given in the scam is not the same as the city number on caller ID, however, and is no longer in service.
Anyone who receives a similar call is being urged to immediately disconnect without providing any information or taking any instructions from the caller, and then contacting their local law enforcement agency.
According to PPB, similar scams often use real law enforcement agency phone numbers and use a real officer’s name in an effort to gain the trust of the victim. The agency wants the public to know:
- The bureau does not call individuals and demand or request money from community members under any circumstances.
- The bureau or any other legitimate law enforcement agency does not call community members seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations or warrants. This includes claims of unpaid federal or state taxes.
- Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to forward money.
However, according to PPB, the Oregon Judicial Department may use an independent collection service to collect unpaid monetary judgments and fines for state court cases. To verify a caller is legitimate, the Bureau recommends:
- Ask the collector (caller) for information specific to the alleged warrant or unpaid traffic citation. The caller should have the court case number, date of ticket and vehicle license number.
- Verify the debt or confirm other details by calling the OJD collections hotline at 1-888-564-2828.
- Use OJD Courts ePay to directly pay money owed to state courts for most traffic citations, civil fees or criminal fines (For more information go to http://www.courts.oregon.gov/OJD/OnlineServices/ePay/Pages/index.aspx).
Police said any Portland residents who fall victim to the scams with financial loss are encouraged to file a report by calling the bureau’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.
“It’s certainly possible that someone that gets one of these calls has a warrant. If that’s the case, just hang up and go turn yourself in, because no one’s going to collect money over the phone to clear up a warrant,” Simpson said.
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