Sheriff’s office cautions residents about phone scam

By Stefanie Donahue

Phone scammers are at it again in Whatcom County and this time they’re asking for ransom after informing residents that members of their family are being held hostage.

According to a statement released by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office on April 28, multiple people have reported calls from an individual stating their loved ones were injured in a serious car accident and taken hostage. The caller then goes on to request thousands of dollars in ransom.

In one report, the scammer attempted to wrangle $4,500 over the phone after stating the victim’s son and daughter were involved in a serious car collision. The caller then went on to say they had taken the children and threatened to injure them if the victim didn’t turn over the money, all while advising them not to call 911. The caller requested the victim obtain a Western Union MoneyGram to be sent to Puerto Rico. According to the report, the victim didn’t proceed with the transaction and was able to confirm the well-being of their children.

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said the number associated with the calls contains a 503 area code based in Portland, Oregon. The callers often use convincing details to sway the mind of the victim.

“Citizens are reminded that scammers prey on the emotions of potential victims,” read a statement from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. “Personal and/or financial information should never be given over the phone, especially when the contact is unsolicited and suspect.”

Whatcom County Sheriff’s representatives are available to answer non-urgent questions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 360/676-6912. Call 911 for emergency response.

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