Have you gotten a call saying your loved one has been kidnapped? Or that you’re wanted because you failed to show up for jury duty?
It’s probably a scam.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Office warns that scammers have been targeting local residents with phone calls designed to intimidate. Scammers typically ask for money in the way of prepaid credit cards or wire transfers.
In one version of the scam, scammers have called Mason and Thurston County residents and claimed to have kidnapped the victims’ loved ones. Scammers may have personal information obtained through social media, and people in the background of the calls — including children — yell “Help!” or “Mommy!”
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The scammer then demands ransom.
No valid kidnap-for-ransom cases have been reported in Mason County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Salisbury gives this advice for dealing with scammers:
“If you receive a call that a person has been kidnapped or endangered, advise the caller that you will follow their instructions. Once you hang up, immediately call 911 to report the situation. Then, verify the safety of the loved one that was allegedly kidnapped or endangered.”
In the jury duty scam, callers tell victims that they’re calling from the Sheriff’s Office. The caller claims that the victim failed to report for jury duty and will be arrested on a warrant unless a certain amount of money is paid.
If you receive such a call, call the non-emergency dispatch line. In Thurston County, the non-emergency dispatch line is 360-704-2740. In Mason County, it’s 360-426-4441.
Scammers use these methods — prepaid credit cards and wire transfers — because they are often untraceable, the Sheriff’s Office reports.
Wire transfer companies, such as Western Union, allow a person to retrieve money from any of their locations by using the corresponding PIN. With prepaid credit cards, once the scammer receives the code from the back of the card, they can instantly withdraw or transfer the money for that card from a remote location.