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Scammers claim victims have warrants for their arrest, demand payment via pre-paid cards or services

Sheriff's deputies say Columbia County residents have been scammed out of thousands of dollars due to a phone scam threatening people with fake warrant arrest notifications.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says investigators are looking into a phone scam in which callers demand money to pay off phony warrants against a targeted victim.

Scam calls are believed to be broadly targeting county residents, as well as surrounding areas, the Sheriff's Office reports.

"The scammers claim to be local Law Enforcement, then ask their victims to purchase Trans Union, Green Dot or some other pre-paid multi sourced card," a Sheriff's Office news release states. "The scammer then asks the victim to give them the card codes over the telephone."

Law enforcement will never ask for money by phone, the Sheriff's Office advises. Deputies or law enforcement administrators will also never inform you if you have a warrant for your arrest.

That time you skipped jury duty, or didn't know you were called for it? You won't be issued a warrant for that either, CCSO states. If you get a call that sounds suspicious or asks you to pay money for anything you're not familiar with, "please just hang up," deputies advise.

Warnings of phone scams affecting Columbia County have been more common in the past year.

In late October, Columbia River People's Utility District learned of a phone scam targeting its customers. In that instance, the scammers mimicked the PUD's phone system, calling victims from numbers that appeared to be coming from the PUD's office to warn them of phony unpaid bills, threatening to shut their power off if they didn't receive payment.

Agencies advise that if you get a suspicious call, hang up and call that agency directly to confirm any claims of unpaid bills or requests for money.

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