Spokane County Sheriff’s Detectives received a report of an attempted “Grandparent Scam” and wanted to remind the public of this and other scams that have made their way through our area. Please share this information with all of your family and friends and help make sure they don’t become a victim of scammers.
Variations of the “Grandparents Scam” have been active for several years. In this recent incident, the potential victim received a call from a male claiming to be her grandson. The male said he was in jail and the victim needed to contact the male’s attorney, Michael Prince at 240-235-9641. The victim was told to send $1,993 to a Walmart in Buffalo, NY. Thankfully, the victim realized this was a scam before making a wire transfer and did not lose her money.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received reports of this scam, and others, for years. They provided this information in April of 2014:
“TELEPHONE SCAM ALLEGING A RELATIVE IS IN A FINANCIAL OR LEGAL CRISIS
The Internet Crime Complaint Center continues to receive reports of telephone scams involving calls that claim their “relative” is in a legal or financial crisis. These complaints are sometimes referred to as the “Grandparent Scam.” Scammers use scenarios that include claims of a relative being arrested or in a car accident in another country. Scammers often pose as the relative, create a sense of urgency and make a desperate plea for money to victims. It is not unusual for scammers to beg victims not to tell other family members about the situation.
The scammers also impersonate third parties, such as an attorney, law enforcement officer, or some other type of official, such as a U.S. Embassy representative. Once potential victims appear to believe the caller’s story, they are provided instructions to wire money to an individual, often referred to as a bail bondsman, for their relative to be released.
Some complainants have reported the callers claimed to be from countries including, but not limited to: Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala, and Peru.
Callers often disguise themselves by using telephone numbers generated by free applications or by spoofing their numbers.
If you receive this type of call:
• Resist the pressure to act quickly.
• Verify the information before sending any money by attempting to contact your relative to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
• Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail, especially to an overseas location. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you cannot get it back.
Individuals who have fallen victim to this type of scam are encouraged to file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, https://www.ic3.gov.”
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police Department have provided several scam advisories over the past several years. Below are several for this year alone.
Previous Press Release from August 17, 2016:
Scam Advisory, Again
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police want to warn our community again; law enforcement will NEVER threaten arrest and demand payments or personal banking information over the phone. DO NOT be fooled, DO NOT “give” your money to scammers!
The Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police continue to receive reports of scammers threatening citizens and demanding money. The “stories” the scammer use may vary but they all have a common theme. They demand money from the victim and if they don’t receive the money, the victim or someone the victim knows will be arrested or has already been arrested and won’t be released.
PLEASE, talk to all your family, friends and neighbors and make sure they know of these scams.
Law Enforcement, the courts, government agencies, IRS, or any business will not call and demand money and threaten you or someone you know with arrest. Law Enforcement will never call and demand you bond someone out of jail and demand money. Never call these scammers back and if you are concerned the “story” could be true, look up the phone number for the agency reportedly involved yourself or you can contact your local law enforcement agency yourself.
Unfortunately one of our community members recently fell prey to one of these scams and lost $9,500. On August 16, 2016, a Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy met with an elderly female and her husband. She told the deputy she received a phone call from a person claiming to be her grandson. The male was crying and told her a friend of his had died and while driving to the funeral, he was pulled over for a defective tail light. During the traffic stop, the male claimed a large amount of drugs were found in the vehicle and he and his cousin were arrested.
The victim received another call a short time later by a male who identified himself as Officer Eric Donaldson (902-669-0142). The man told the victim he believed her grandson was innocent BUT she needed to post $9,500.00 to bail him out of jail and prevent the case from being forwarded to the drug department.
The scammer advised the victim he wouldn’t accept a check or charge card but informed her to go to the bank, withdraw cash and a courier would pick up the money. The scammer threatened the victim and told her not to tell anyone because her grandson was facing federal charges.
The victim did as instructed and later that day a male in an older gold pickup truck came to pick up the cash. The victim made a comment about the truck the male was driving and he told her it was a “collector’s truck”.
After the scammer left, the victim noticed the 902 area code of the phone number came back to Nova Scotia.
Soon after, the scammer continuing to pose as “Officer Donaldson” called her back. He claimed her son’s fingerprints were on the trunk of the vehicle where the “drugs” had been located and now needed an additional $9,500.00. During this time frame, she also received two calls from people claiming to work of the IRS who demanded money from her to settle tax problems.
The victim was able to make contact with her real grandson who lives on the East Coast and learned he was not in any legal trouble and the entire story was nothing but a scam. However, her grandson began checking his account and located a fraudulent plane ticket purchase and a payment to an insurance company he didn’t authorize.
This specific scam has been called the Grandparents Scam and has been around for several years.
Law Enforcement, the courts, government agencies, IRS, or any business will not call and demand money and threaten you or someone you know with arrest. Law Enforcement will never call and demand you bond someone out of jail and demand money.
DO NOT be fooled, DO NOT “give” your money to scammers!
Anyone wishing to report scams or would like additional information can visit the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Incident can also be report to Crime Check at 509-456-2233.
Previous Press Release from June 21, 2016:
Victim Swindled for $40,000 Scammers Demanded ITunes Cards
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone law enforcement nor any other government agency will NOT call and ask for any type of prepaid credit cards, ITunes cards, personal banking information or any other payment like this over the phone. These calls are scams. Please, if you happen to believe the story for some reason, contact your local law enforcement agency or the agency represented during the call by obtaining an independently verified phone number. DO NOT call the number provided during the call. You will only be calling the scammer back. Do not fall prey to these scammers; investigate and verify before you ever provide financial information to anyone you don’t know and trust.
On June 20, 2016, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ron Nye contacted a victim who had been scammed out of $40,000. The 86-year-old victim told Deputy Nye he received a phone call from a person who sounded like, and claimed to be, a family member who lives in British Columbia. The person called from (514)546-9393, which is a Montreal, Quebec phone number.
The scammer claimed he needed $40,000 to pay a bond to get out of jail and asked if the victim could help. The scammer told the victim he needed to purchase $40,000 in ITunes gift cards to pay the bond amount. The victim said the person sounded like his family member, so he went to different stores purchasing ITunes gift cards for the amount of $500 each.
The victim talked to a different person during another phone call claiming to be a police officer in Canada named Todd Wilson. The victim was told to read all the numbers off the back of the cards and the victim complied.
While Deputy Nye was talking to the victim, the scammers called back and told the victim “the judge” wouldn’t accept $40,000 and they now needed another $10,000. When Deputy Nye got on the phone and identified himself to the scammer, the line was quickly disconnected.
Deputy Nye contacted an Apple representative, explained the fraud and asked if Apple could assist the victim. The Apple representative said they would try to help and they had called the victim back prior to Deputy Nye leaving. Deputy Nye also emailed a copy of his report to the Apple Law Enforcement and Fraud Department.
This scam is very similar to the old “Grandparents Scam” where a person calls stating they’re a grandchild and are in jail. They convince the grandparent, who only wants to help, to pay for the bond to get them released.
The scammer’s stories change and adapt as information gets out to the public. Please investigate and independently verify everything before you provide financial information to anyone you don’t personally know and trust.
Previous Press Release from June 10, 2016:
Scammers Continue to Demand Electronic Voucher Payment to Avoid Arrest
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police want to warn our community again; law enforcement will never threaten arrest and demand payments or personal banking information over the phone. DO NOT be fooled, DO NOT “give” your money to scammers!
Yesterday afternoon, Spokane County Crime Prevention Deputy David Morris received information from a citizen about this old, but continual, scam. In this instance, the scammer called from 509-212-3317 and stated his name was “Deputy Middlebrooks”, badge number 75816. During the call the scammer states the victim needs to get an “electronic voucher” from Fred Meyer to pay for warrants totaling $1,425. (Failure to appear for court, Contempt of Court and Avoidance of Civil Duty)
This is a scam. None of the information provided by the scammer is true and he even provided the incorrect address for the Sheriff’s Office. Do not call these scammers back and definitely, do not fall for their scandalous stories.
Don’t be fooled, don’t be their next victim.
Previous Press Release from April 12, 2016:
Deputies Will NEVER Ask You to Pay Fines Over Phone
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has once again received reports of a male claiming to work for the Sheriff’s Office who is demanding citizens pay fines immediately over the phone and threatens arrest if the potential victim does not follow his demands. Do NOT be fooled. This is a scam and neither the Sheriff’s Office nor any other law enforcement agency will demand you to go to a store to obtain a prepaid credit card or voucher to pay fines.
In this case, a male claiming to be “Deputy Walker” called from (509) 237-5534. The scammer had a southern accent and stated the victim had a warrant for failing to appear for jury duty and a second warrant for contempt of court. He demanded the victim go to Fred Meyer and get a money voucher in the amount of $989.00 to pay for the fines and avoid arrest.
The scammer was so brazen, he told the victim once a card was purchased, she needed to go to the credit/debit kiosk located inside the Public Safety Building (1100 W. Mallon). The scammer demanded a call back once she was at the kiosk and again threatened arrest if she didn’t follow his instructions.
Thankfully, in this case, the scammer did not claim another victim. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone law enforcement will NOT call and demand payment or personal information over the phone. These scammers continue to change their story but they all have the same theme: they want your hard earned money or your identity by obtaining your personal information.
Don’t be fooled, don’t be their next victim.
Previous Press Release from February 18, 2016:
Phone Scammers “Claim” to be Deputies
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a male claiming to work for the Sheriff’s Office as he threatened arrest and demanded money for warrants.
A call was placed to the scammer’s phone number, 509-237-2600, and a male answered and transferred the call to a male who identified himself as “Detective Mike Ellis”. When confronted the suspect transferred the call to another male who identified himself as “Lieutenant Gray”. The scammers continued to threaten arrest if the victim does not drive to Fred Meyer immediately and obtain a voucher for money owned due to a Failure to Appear or Contempt of Court warrant.
When a real Sheriff’s Lieutenant told the scammers he would meet them to pay them money, the scammers stated the warrants could not be paid in person and eventually hung-up.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office does not employ a “Mike Ellis” or a “Lieutenant Gray”.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police Department would like to remind everyone law enforcement will NEVER call and request or demand fines to be paid over the phone.
Scammers continue to prey upon citizens because they eventually find someone who believes their story and becomes a victim. Scammers continue to conduct phone scams where they identify themselves as employees of the IRS, Social Security Administration, a law enforcement agency, a court employee or some other business or government agency.
DO NOT be fooled into becoming a victim. DO NOT provide bank account information, credit or prepaid credit card information or any other personal information over the phone.