Redmond police report phone scams are on the rise

Recently, the Redmond Police Department (RPD) and other local law enforcement agencies have been seeing an increase in reported and unreported phone scams.

Mike Dowd, spokesperson for RPD, said the scams they are most concerned about involve suspects contacting victims by phone and notifying them that they are the subject of a government investigation. The government agency the suspects supposedly represent can vary depending on the victim’s location, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and even RPD.

Dowd said victims are told by the suspect that they have to send money through various means to keep from being arrested.

“We want (the public) to know that is not how we do business,” he said.

Dowd added that when callers claim to be from RPD, they sometimes say they are “Redmond deputies,” which is incorrect as deputies work for the sheriff’s department and officers work for the police department.

Dowd said the best way to respond to these calls is to just be polite, say thank you and then check with the agency the suspect claims to represent to see if what they said is true. You should also use a phone number you locate on your own, not the one provided by the caller. This is because in some cases, suspects have the ability to alter their caller identification displays.

Because of this, Dowd said the suspects don’t necessarily have to be local; they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

Redmond is not the only city targeted by these scams as law enforcement agencies throughout the region have been dealing with this issue, but Dowd said the main targets in town seem to be the international community and seniors. He said this is because within the former, people probably will not be familiar with how the local government and law enforcement agencies work and may be fearful of getting arrested or losing their immigration status or visas if they do not cooperate. With seniors, Dowd said many are very trusting.

Dowd said he receives five or six calls a day from members of the community who have received such calls or know of people who have received such calls, but they’re usually from people who do not send the callers money.

“A lot of times, people aren’t victims,” he said. “They don’t fall for it.”

Because many people do not give the callers money, he said, the scams are hard to prove. In addition, Dowd said those who do fall victim often won’t report it because they are embarrassed. As a result, he said, the police reports do not accurately reflect how prevalent the problem is.

“I get so many calls,” Dowd said.

While many scammers are currently impersonating government agencies to get money from people, that has not always been the case and will not always be the case. Dowd said in time, they will be making different claims, so people should be on the lookout when it comes to unsolicited calls and always decline from sending money to anyone.

“It’s not a new problem,” he said. “It’s a continuing problem.”

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