Scam Alert

 

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s office continues to receive reports of scams being attempted or perpetrated on local residents. The most common theme amongst these scams is that they ask for payment via Green Dot or Western Union; which would not be asked for by a legitimate caller.

All of these callers are very persistent and convincing. They may leave messages for you to call them back in an attempt to establish legitimacy.  Most have foreign accents, and many will become unprofessional and threatening if you challenge their legitimacy.  These callers are able to spoof local numbers to get you to believe that the calls are being made from this area.  Do not trust your caller ID to verify anyone’s legitimacy; these are easily faked.

Do not send money to anyone you do not know, especially using prepaid cards of any kind; including Green Dot, iTunes, or Western Union money transfers. These are notoriously hard to track and are used almost exclusively by individuals or organizations involved in illegal activity.  If you get a message from a business or government agency, look up their real number and call their public number, not the one given in a message.

Recent area scams include:

Jury Duty Scam

One of the most popular schemes recently is to call and claim to be a member of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office. The callers are able to spoof local phone numbers so they appear to originate from Montana or even within our office.  The callers claim to be administrators with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and tell victims that they have a warrant and are subject to arrest due to missing jury duty.  The scammers then advise victims that they can pay to avoid arrest.  Eventually victims are convinced to purchase Green Dot Cards and give the scammers the card numbers over the phone.  The Sheriff would like to stress that this office, nor any other legitimate government office will never ask you to purchase Green Dot Cards as a form of payment.   We may call you to inquire your status if you miss jury duty, but we would not threaten you with arrest or ask for payment over the phone.

Medicare/Medicaid

Callers have been representing themselves as Medicare or Medicaid representatives who need to update or gather personal information. Do not give out your information over the phone to an unsolicited caller.  If you need to, call the Medicare or Medicaid office directly and not the number the scammer gives you.

IRS

Callers will claim you have unpaid taxes that are due, and that you will be arrested if you do not pay immediately. Again, they will typically ask for payment via Green Dot or Western Union.  Some even have spoof websites they will direct you to and show you your tax debt.  People are directed to log into apps that allow you to view the caller’s computer screen.  On that screen, they will enter your information into a spoof website in an attempt to show you that it is real. Again, the IRS does not operate in this manner.

Canadian Jail

Callers representing themselves as long lost grand grandchildren will call stating they are in jail in Canada and ask for bail money. Again, do not send money.  An obvious sign that the caller is not legitimate is if they reference Green Dot and Western Union. A quick call to your relatives should help you determine that everything is OK and a scammer has targeted you.

Nigerian Lottery

The old “Nigerian Lottery” scam has once again become prevalent. In this particular scam, scammers send letters congratulating you on winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign lotteries.  Along with the letter, they will send you a check to deposit so you can send money to cover the fees and taxes associated with the winnings.  By the time you have deposited and sent money, the fake check will have bounced and you will have already sent the scammer what they want.  Do not fall for a fraud involving a lottery you have never played, in a country you have probably never been to.

NW Energy

The caller states they are from NW Energy and threatens to shut off your power if you do not pay your bill. Do not send them money via Green Dot or Western Union. Again, a quick phone call to your local company can verify the status of your account.

Credit Repair

We have also received reports of a “credit repair” agency that offers to deposit money into a victim’s bank account to improve their balance and thus improve their credit. The fraudsters actually deposit what appears to be US Treasury checks into the victims account via mobile deposit.  The victim is then required to repay the money using iTunes cards by giving caller the numbers over the phone.  In one particular case involving this type of scam, the victim was notified by their bank that the checks were fictitious.  This scam, like most, also involved a spoofed US number which had originated out of country.

Mountain Biker Fatality

On July 24, 2017, at 3:18 P.M., Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office received a call of an 18 year old male who had collapsed while riding his mountain bike at Big Sky Resort. The Big Sky Ski Patrol responded quickly to the scene and continued life saving efforts that had already been started.

The male was moved to a suitable landing zone where Reach AIR landed and assisted with life saving efforts. Tanner Noble was transported to the Big Sky Medical Center for Reach Air by Big Sky Fire and did not survive. Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is handling the death investigation.

 

Rescue on Flathead Pass

On Monday, July 24th, 2017, a little after 2:00 pm, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, a Rocky Mountain Rotors Helicopter, a Life Flight Helicopter, and an American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance responded to a backcountry rescue.  Two 24-year-old males were driving a side-by-side ATV on a jeep trail north of Flathead Pass in the Bridger Mountains when the ATV caught fire.  The fire spread so rapidly that the driver was unable to get out of the ATV before being severely burned over a large portion of his body, including his face, arms, and legs.  The other male was unable to call for help because they were out of cell range.  He was, however, able to get a text message to another friend requesting help.

While ground crews worked their way across difficult terrain toward the scene from both the west and east side of the mountains, the two helicopters searched the area from the air.  The helicopters eventually found the scene from a distance after seeing the large burnt spot left by the ATV fire.

The Rocky Mountain Rotors Helicopter dropped a two-man rescue crew near the victim.  The crew provided first aid.  The Life Flight Helicopter, which is considerable heavier than the Rocky Mountain Rotors helicopter, could not safely land near the victim due to the altitude and hot weather.  The Life Flight Helicopter set down at a landing zone about a quarter of a mile away.  The Rocky Mountain Rotors Helicopter then shuttled the victim to the Life Flight Helicopter.  The Life Flight Helicopter flew the patient to Bozeman Health Hospital.

Search and Rescue ground crews inspected the burnt area around what little was left of the ATV.   The scene was no longer actively burning, but there were still hot spots and smoldering vegetation.  The scene was turned over to the Forest Service for fire activity mop up.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind people to try text messaging even if they are out of voice call range.  Often times the text message will go through where there is no voice call coverage.  Most phones will tell you if text has been successfully sent.  If you run into trouble and can request help via text message, be sure to include your location and the nature of the problem.  Stay where you are so rescuers can communicate with you via text message.

Owner of Pit Bills Charged

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office issued citations to Wayne Bartlett, the owner of the two pit bull dogs that were responsible for the death of Melissa Barnes at her residence on June 24, 2017.  Mr. Bartlett is charged with two counts of Vicious / Dangerous Dog, pursuant to Gallatin County Ordinance 2003-01-5, and two counts of failure to have current Rabies Vaccinations on the dogs as required, pursuant to Gallatin County Ordinance 2003-01-08.

Mr. Bartlett was given until July 28th, 2017, to make his appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court to answer to these charges.

The dogs involved in this attack were euthanized on June 26, 2017. The dogs both tested negative for rabies at the Montana State University Veterinary Laboratory.

The rabies test results allowed the victim’s family members to donate organs for transplant.

Fall from Ross Peak Sends Search and Rescue into Action


(Gallatin County, Mont.)
A fall on Ross Peak North of Bozeman sent Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers and Deputies into action Tuesday afternoon about 3:00 P.M.   Rescuers were dispatched to the area for a report of a male who had taken a fall while climbing. He injured his head and was unconscious.

Members of the Gallatin County Search and Rescue Posse headed to the scene immediately and began reaching the area with a ground crew. Members of the Heli Team inserted a small crew and short hauled (attached to a litter on a rope under the helicopter) the 18 year-old Bozeman resident to a waiting air ambulance from Air Idaho.

The male had regained consciousness and most levels of awareness. He was flown to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital where he is being treated for severe head trauma.

The man stated that he hiked up the trail toward Ross Peak. He and his brother then scrambled over rock in hopes of reaching the summit. The male stated that a hand hold broke and we went tumbling downhill.

This rescue was completed in a remarkablly short time of about two and a half hours – from the time of the report to the time the male reached definitive healthcare. This is all due to the skill and dedication of all involved: The GCSO Posse, Heli, and Ham Radio teams, and the support of Air Idaho.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind all outdoor enthusiasts that accidents in the backcountry can be complex and time consuming. Not all rescues are handled this quickly. The outcome of this incident could have been a lot different.

Photos courtesy of Sheriff’s Office

Yellow Mule Trail Rescue

Also on July 8, 2017 a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy, Big Sky Fire Department, and members of Big Sky Search and Rescue responded to a report of an injured person at the Yellow Mule Trail. A 29-year-old female had suffered a sprained ankle after slipping into the West Fork of the Gallatin River. The woman was with a friend taking photographs when she slipped on a rock and fell into the river. This current swept the woman downstream and onto the opposing shore, which happen to be a cliff face. Her friend was able to contact emergency services on her cell phone.

Five Big Sky Search and Rescue members hiked to the patient and were able to assist the woman across the river. Search and Rescue members used a utility side-by-side to transport the woman to the Big Sky Fire Department ambulance at Ousel Falls Park. The woman was then transported to the Big Sky Medical Center. 

Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind people that even on well-maintained trails, accidents can and do occur. By having a means of communication with you, hikers can prevent a situation from deteriorating from a simple injury to a tragic event.

 

Brackett Creek Rescue

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, at approximately 10:45 AM, the Gallatin County 911 Center received a call from International Emergency Response, a spot beacon service, regarding an injured female who was horseback.  The caller from emergency response provided a latitude and longitude coordinates, (which placed the patient in Bridger Canyon near Brackett Creek), the patient’s name and age (64 years old), and the patient’s medical issues.  The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team, American Medical Response, and a Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputy were dispatched. The Search and Rescue Posse responded to the scene with AMR. HAM radio operators determined that, according to the coordinates given, the patient was approximately 2.5 miles from Bridger Canyon Road.

GCSAR Posse crew members drove a truck towards the patient’s coordinates using a vehicle trail.  They met another truck on the trail in which the patient was riding.  The patient was transferred to the GCSAR truck and was checked by an EMT while being driven to the parking area.  Upon arrival, the patient was checked by ambulance crew.  Initial assessment showed that she suffered a dislocated finger, an injury to her leg, and abrasions to her arm and leg.   Patient was transported to her vehicle at Bridger Bowl at her request, where she met with her husband for transport to the hospital for further evaluation.

According to the patient’s husband, the patient was participating in the Back Country Horsemen’s annual poker ride.  She had dismounted to lead the horse across some water when the incident occurred.  She slipped and fell under the horse, which spooked and landed on her and caused her injuries.  She activated her spot beacon when she concluded she was too injured to continue the ride.

From Bridger to space to 911


(Gallatin County, Mont.)On Saturday, July 8, 2017, at approximately 10:45 AM, the Gallatin County 911 Center received a call from International Emergency Response, a spot beacon service, regarding an injured female who was horseback. The caller from emergency response provided a latitude and longitude coordinates, (which placed the patient in Bridger Canyon near Brackett Creek), the patient’s name and age (64 years old), and the patient’s medical issues. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team, American Medical Response, and a Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputy were dispatched. The Search and Rescue Posse responded to the scene with AMR. HAM radio operators determined that, according to the coordinates given, the patient was approximately 2.5 miles from Bridger Canyon Road.

GCSAR Posse crew members drove a truck towards the patient’s coordinates using a vehicle trail. They met another truck on the trail in which the patient was riding. The patient was transferred to the GCSAR truck and was checked by an EMT while being driven to the parking area. Upon arrival, the patient was checked by ambulance crew. Initial assessment showed that she suffered a dislocated finger, an injury to her leg, and abrasions to her arm and leg. Patient was transported to her vehicle at Bridger Bowl at her request, where she met with her husband for transport to the hospital for further evaluation.

According to the patient’s husband, the patient was participating in the Back Country Horsemen’s annual poker ride. She had dismounted to lead the horse across some water when the incident occurred. She slipped and fell under the horse, which spooked and landed on her and caused her injuries. She activated her spot beacon when she concluded she was too injured to continue the ride. 

Spanish Peak Rescue

On July 6, 2017 at approximately, 12:30 PM, the Gallatin County 911 Center received a call about an injured mountain biker.  A 34 year-old male from Los Angeles, CA had crashed and fallen off his mountain bike while biking on the trails near Spanish Peaks in Big Sky.   The Big Sky division of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team,  Big Sky Fire Department & EMS, and Gallatin County Sheriff deputies were dispatched and responded to the area. The caller reported that the patient was approximately one mile up the trail.

Big Sky EMS crew members hiked up to the patient prior to Search and Rescue’s arrival for patient assessment and initial treatment . Personnel from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team hiked to the patient with a one wheeled liter. The patient was found to have shoulder, chest, and rib injuries. The patient was packaged in the one wheeled liter and brought to the trailhead by SAR and EMS members, where a Big Sky Fire Department Ambulance was waiting.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind everyone to enjoy the county’s great backcountry and extensive trail system, but please remember to be safe and be prepared.  Accidents can happen quickly and be severe; so always have a reliable form of communication, travel with a friend when possible, and let others know when and where you will be recreating.

 

Lava Lake Rescue

On Thursday, July 6th, 2017, Gallatin County Sheriff Deputies, Paramedics with Big Sky Fire Department, and members of the Gallatin County Search and Rescue responded to a backcountry rescue at Lava Lake Trail.  A 17-year-old male had suffered an allergic reaction to an insect bite and had difficulty breathing.  Fellow hikers coming down from Lava Lake stopped and checked on the young man.  The hikers quickly went down the mountain and contacted emergency services.

Search and Rescue members and a paramedic with Big Sky Fire Department hiked to the patient and walked with him to the trailhead.  A waiting medical staff evaluated him and the patient later went to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind backcountry hikers to use caution when in the backcountry.  Tell people where you are going and when to expect you back.  Enjoy the backcountry with other people when possible and carry a means of communication with you.