Scammers from Oregon fail to defraud woman

Scammers pretending to be law enforcement officers failed to get a Umatilla County woman to fall for their fraud scheme Thursday.

But Oregon State Police said the scammers recently bilked $6,000 from a Eugene woman and tried the same scam in Salem.

The Umatilla woman said that she received a call from someone identifying themself as an FBI agent who asked her to wire $3,000 to help with an investigation, said OSP criminal investigations division Sgt. Tom Spicknall.

The supposed "agent" said he was conducting a fraud investigation of Publisher's Clearinghouse and that she had won a sweepstakes but insiders had filed a forged death certificate in her father's name.

The scammer said she needed to send a $3,000 refundable security deposit through Western Union. He also said someone from Oregon State Police would call her to verify the authenticity of his call, Spicknall said.

She later received a call from someone who identified himself as Lt. Greg Sherman from the state patrol's Pendleton office, and the phone number on her caller ID was the phone number for the OSP's Pendleton Area Command office, Spicknall said.

Sherman is a commander at the Pendleton office.

But after getting the second call, the woman became suspicious and called the OSP in Pendleton to report it.

Similar incidents have been reported in Eugene and Salem this week, Spicknall said, with the legitimate police department numbers showing up on the caller ID.

"A law enforcement officer will not request that money be sent by way of a money order for any reason," Spicknall said. "Anyone who has received a similar telephone call should immediately call their local law enforcement agency or Oregon State Police office."

Spicknall also reminds people to never provide personal or financial information to someone who calls, and said if they are unsure to hang up and call the law enforcement agency the caller says they work for.

People also should beware of high-pressure techniques and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Prosser nonemergency phone hit by outage

Another outage in the phone system at Benton County Emergency Services affected a nonemergency number used by county residents near Prosser for several hours Friday.

The outage meant residents seeking to contact Benton County sheriff's deputies through the nonemergency dispatch line had to make a long-distance call to 509-628-0333 instead of calling 786-2112, said emergency services spokeswoman Sara Schwartz.

The line also went down Jan. 21 for five days because of a conflict with the internal phone system, Schwartz said.

The reason for Friday's outage was not known, but it was working again by 5:30 p.m.

Calls to 911 were not affected.

It also did not affect residents living in the Prosser city limits who call 786-1500 to reach the Prosser Police Department.

Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com