Scammers used a mother’s love of her daughter to try and scare money out of her Tuesday morning.
Roberta Wentz feared for her daughter’s safety after she received a call from a scammer claiming to be a police officer holding her daughter.
“They had someone who sounded like my daughter,” Wentz said. “She was screaming and babbling but I couldn’t understand her.”
She said a man came on the phone then sounding as if he would be “the voice of reason.”
According to Wentz, the man pretended to be a police officer and said her daughter had seen something she shouldn’t have seen. He said Wentz needed to get her home safely.
Wentz said she sensed a scam. “I said ‘no’ and hung up.”
She called her daughter, who was at home the entire time, and then she called the Brookings police to report the incident.
Tracy Lejeune of the Brookings Police said they receive one or two calls a week about scammers.
“It’s usually the same things. The IRS is coming to get you, or your loved one is in jail and you need to send bail money and not tell anyone,” she said.
Capt. Mike Espinoza of the Curry County Sheriff’s office encouraged residents to report such incidents, but said the most important thing is to know the police will never call and demand money.
“Many times scammers will say you need to send bail money to get someone out of jail or pay on a warrant before they come to get someone,” Espinoza said.
But he added, this is never the case. “We would never call someone to say we need money.”
And the police would not forewarn someone they were going to be picked up on a warrant, according to Espinoza.
Espinoza warned these types of scams increase this time of year as people get tax returns. He also said many people in smaller areas know their police, so an officer you don’t know probably isn’t an officer, especially if he or she won’t let your relative speak for themselves.
Espinoza said, “do not give banking or credit card information over the phone.”
According to the FTC, if you get a call like this, do not tell the scammers your loved one’s name.
Ask them for the relative’s name and ask for the officer’s rank, city and agency.
Verify everything. Verify the person’s identity by asking questions a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
Ask for a call back number and call your relative or other relatives who might know where that person is.
If the facts cannot be verified, hang up and call the police.
And finally, the FTC recommends you tell your friends and relatives about any scams so they can protect themselves.
Reach Boyd C. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org .