Kennewick police sergeant warns against phone schemes | #socialmedia


KENNEWICK, Wash. — We’ve all been the victim of a spam phone call at one point or another, but in an elaborate plot that’s growing increasingly common, some scammers actually threaten the livelihood of their victims or people close to them.

That’s why Sgt. Chris Littrell of the Kennewick Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division took to social media on Thursday afternoon to share an anecdote about a recently defunct scheme, and how one community member unraveled the plot during the course of one phone call.

In a Facebook Live stream, Sgt. Littrell told the story of a Kennewick resident who received a call from a young female voice. They claimed, “Mom I just got involved in an accident” before hanging the phone off to a demanding male voice.

READ: Phone scammers using new tricks to impersonate U.S. Marshals

At first, the caller acted calmly and nicely. They assumed the personality of a police officer who was trying to help the victim’s daughter before asking her to send money in the form of a gift card–particularly, an Amazon gift card or a Google Play gift card.

When the victim hesitated, the tone of the spam caller quickly shifted. They dropped the police officer act and claimed to be a member of a Mexican drug cartel who demanded money while holding the victim’s daughter hostage. They threatened to injure the victim’s daughter, who she only got a brief chance to hear from.

That’s when the victim took a deep breath and sent a text message to her daughter, who confirmed that she was perfectly fine and not in any danger. She hung up the phone and went along with her day without fear of any danger to her loved one.

READ: ‘They prey on fight or flight’ — Impersonation scams on the rise in Tri-Cities, says HAPO

“We hear these scams coming in all of the time, and unfortunately, the phone numbers that the suspects are using are voice-over-internet phone numbers to where they can be anywhere around the world,” Sgt. Littrell said. “It makes it almost impossible for us as law enforcement to be able to track where you send that money to if you’re on the phone with a scammer.”

His advice was comprised of three simple steps: Taking a moment to process the situation, messaging the family member to confirm they are safe, and disconnecting after they receive that confirmation.

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