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Santa Barbara - South County

Santa Barbara police return $50k to victim of phone scam

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Santa Barbara Police saved an elderly man from losing more than $50,000 to a telephone scam on July 15.

On July 15, Santa Barbara Police received a report from a 90-year-old victim about a telephone scam.

The victim told officers that he received a phone call from a person alleging that they worked at the United States Social Security Office, they informed the victim that his benefits and his identity had been compromised and that he owed money to the agency. They told the victim that he needs to pay the amount owed through gift cards and a wire transfer.

Over the next couple of days, the victim says the scammers continually harassed him, going as far as posing as law enforcement officials and threatened him with arrest warrants if he did not pay the restitution.

The scammers then posed as Santa Barbara Police officers and claimed that they had an "arrest warrant" for the victim if he refused to pay.

The victim then provided the scammers with $6,000 in gift card payments and wired $50,000 to a bank outside the country.

Detectives with Santa Barbara Police began an investigation into the scam.

The United States Secret Service was contacted and helped police in the investigation.

Detectives were able to obtain the suspect's information and the final location of the wire transfer. Their investigation revealed that money would wire to Thailand.

Detectives and the Secret Service were able to cancel the wire transfer and return the money to the victim.

Santa Barbara Police Department reminds community members to never provide personal information including bank account numbers or addresses over the phone to government agencies. Law enforcement will never call to request a payment.

For more information on scams, click here.

Crime / Safety
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Julia Nguyen

Julia Nguyen is an assignment editor and social media coordinator for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Julia, click here.

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