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Authorities warned the public Friday to beware of crooks who have telephoned Poway-area residents in recent weeks and tried to swindle them out of money by falsely claiming that the victims were in arrears due to outstanding arrest warrants or other obligations to local government coffers.

“These scammers and impersonators sometimes provide the victims with genuine Sheriff’s Department phone numbers, and in the past they have actually used the names of real department employees,” said sheriff’s Lt. Christopher Collier.

“They may sometimes even want to arrange a meeting in the parking lot of a government building or station in an effort to appear legitimate.”

No employees of the regional law enforcement agency — or of any other county body — contact members of the public by telephone to discuss such matters, Collier noted.

“Nor would any employees ever try to arrange a meeting to allow (a) payment to be made,” the lieutenant said. “If you receive a call from a person or persons claiming to be a Sheriff’s Department employee, and that person is trying to solicit a payment of some sort, please hang up the phone immediately.”

Victims of such illicit solicitations are also advised to report the offenses to the Federal Trade Commission at, or to local law enforcement if the contact results in an actual loss of money or personal information.

— City News Service