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Renton Police warning of new twist on old phone scam
Renton Police recently received a complaint of a possible phone scam, in which a caller attempted to coerce a potential victim into wiring money.
The mother of the victim in this case received a phone call from a male who claimed to be an attorney investigating a bank fraud involving the victim. The victim’s mother provided the male with the victim’s work phone number in the interest of helping to clear up the matter.
The male caller then repeatedly called the victim at her workplace, this time claiming to be an investigator.
The male told the victim that there was a warrant for her arrest issued by the Kent Police Department because of a bad check that she had cashed in Kent in 2008. He instructed her to wire money to his company using Money Gram Express to settle the matter.
The victim was especially concerned because her caller ID showed that one of the calls had come from the primary information number for the Kent Police Department.
The investigating Renton Police Officer called the number from which the initial calls had originated, and spoke briefly with a male who hung up on him. A search of the internet showed a number of complaints about similar calls from the male’s number from victims across the US.
The Officer confirmed with Kent Police that there was no bad check case against the victim, nor a warrant for her arrest, and at this time it appears that the caller was using some type of "spoofing" service or application to make it appear that his call was coming from the Kent Police.
This type of coercion is a recurring scam, which pops up from time to time, although the use of a spoofed phone number is a recent development.
In Washington State, arrest warrants are issued by courts, and cannot be quashed by a private company. With the advent of technology to confuse caller ID systems, you shouldn’t always trust that a call is actually from the entity shown on your caller ID device.
If you are concerned about the validity of a call from Law Enforcement, call back at the public numbers listed in your phone directory blue pages or on the Department's web page.
If your jurisdiction does not have 24 hour reception, you can call 911 to speak with an Officer about your concerns. Thank you for helping us to keep you safe.
-from a press release