Monday, June 12, 2017

SCAM ALERT- police won't require money wire to avoid arrest


News Release from Gresham Police Dept
Posted on FlashAlert: June 12th, 2017 8:41 AM
GRESHAM, Ore.-- The Gresham Police Department wants to warn the public that scammers are trying to trick people into sending them "payment" to avoid arrest or get a loved one out of jail. And to make their ruse more believable, scammers are sometimes using technology to make their phone number appear as Multnomah County's police non-emergency line (503.823.3333) or other government phone numbers.

As recently as June 11, scammers have successfully stolen money from East County residents, claiming to be FBI agents, police officers, or members of a foreign consulate. The thieves demand money be wired to them for the person to avoid arrest for made up charges or to free a loved one from "custody."

Gresham police responded to a call yesterday afternoon where a non-native English speaker was conned out of nearly $1,000 by someone who claimed he was facing arrest for a crime he was not involved in. When the victim challenged the validity of the call, the scammer told him to research their phone number which showed as the police non-emergency line. They tricked the man into wiring money to someone out of country and then called back, demanding another payment. Before sending more money, the victim called the real police.

"This is something Oregon law enforcement agencies won't do," said Gresham Police Captain Claudio Grandjean. "Even if someone has unpaid fines, police won't require a money wire to avoid arrest. And we will never ask for any money to be sent to a specific person or someone out of country."

Grandjean says his agency see these types of scams a few times throughout the year. Most often the scams take two forms, both preying on fear, and several of the scams appear to be associated with the Dominican Republic.

The first scam is described above, where the threat is arrest. In a second scam, the victim receives a call that a loved one has been arrested out of country, for something like an uninsured car crash where someone was injured. If the victim agrees to send money, via cash in the mail or money order, the family member will be released.

The scammers are adept at playing with emotions, sometimes putting the "family member" (actor) on the phone to have them tearfully plead for help and demand secrecy. Once money is received, a new fee, fine or reason to send more money is demanded.

The Gresham Police Department asks that if you feel like someone might be trying to scam you, do one or more of the following:

* call the police
* call a trusted friend
* call the family of the loved one you're concerned about
* don't send any money or give them information

To help deal with scammers, take a moment to calm yourself and think through the situation. Is there any truth to what is being said: do you owe someone money (collection agencies can lie); is your loved one actually out of the country or in trouble; are you being asked to send money to a person, personal address, or out of the country? Time is on your side, even when the scammer lies to make you think otherwise.

"People can always come to the police department and meet with an officer in person," Grandjean added, "that way they'll be the one initiating the contact and can rest assured that we're there to help them."

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