BEND, OR -- An inmate in a Georgia prison is accused of posing as law enforcement in a scam targeting Deschutes County residents. Since late 2015, The Sheriff’s Office has investigated reports of calls threatening victims with arrest, saying they failed to appear for jury duty or had an outstanding warrant.
Investigators say 42-year-old Jay Baron Wright, and possibly other inmates, used a contraband cell phone inside Jimmy Autry State Prison. They allegedly accessed websites to identify contact information for potential fraud victims, then called them, posing as a Deschutes County Deputy.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says several residents fell for the scam and provided account information for pre-paid cash cards to pay "fines." Wright then allegedly turned the information over to two South Carolina women, who laundered the money and transferred it back to Wright and possibly other inmates. Jay Baron Wright (pictured, left) who is now at Georgia's Calhoun State Prison, 24-year-old Christine Wright (center) and 43-year-old Barbara Lynn Clayton (right) were indicted Wednesday for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.
During the investigation, Detectives found additional victims in Colorado, Kentucky and Virginia. Local investigators from DCSO and State Police worked with law enforcement in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and Colorado, due to the complexity of the case. The investigation is ongoing and more indictments and arrests are expected. Victims of the "warrant" scam who have not yet reported a loss are urged to call Sgt. Kent VanderKamp at 541-693-6911.