Police warn of telephone scam

Police are warning Oregonians about a telephone scam in which callers posing as Oregon State Police officers demand money in exchange for dropping criminal charges or arrest warrants against them.

In the past week, two people from the Portland area have received similar 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 from 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 involve male callers with foreign accents calling victims whose caller identification notes the call originates from 911, OSP said. The caller identifies himself as a member of the OSP, using titles such as officer or deputy, and provides call-back numbers of 410-387-7748 or 215-302-3662, police said.

The victims were told to call the number within a certain time frame to arrange payment to clear the arrest warrant or cancel a pending court appearance, police said.

The scam is similar to scams 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 are also encouraged to file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office by telephoning 1-877-877-9392. Complaint forms can also be filled out online at www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/complaint.aspx.

— Mark Freeman

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