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Costa Mesa Police Department
Thursday October 31st, 2013 :: 04:49 p.m. PDT


Beware of the recent increase in telephone fraud and extortion scams

In the past week, Costa Mesa and other neighboring areas have seen an increase in telephone scams intended to extort money from victims. These recent scams involved the victim receiving a call from someone claiming that a family member of the victim was in jeopardy; injured, involved in an accident, or having been abducted with threats to harm the family member. The caller may say something similar to, “I’m glad you answered, a family member of yours was injured.” Victims are then instructed to send money to the unknown caller using Western Union or other electronic fund transfer. Police personnel were able to determine the calls were originating from outside of the U.S., and that the family members mentioned as in jeopardy were, in fact, okay and unaware of the caller’s claims.

In addition to the above scam, other common phone scams reported often involve:

• A call from a person claiming to be a relative, most often a grandchild, who says they are in jail and needs bail money sent via money order.
• Winning a cash prize in a contest you did not enter. The catch, in order to claim the prize, a portion of the winnings must be paid first to cover taxes, etc.
• Persons claiming to be authority figures and/or utility company representatives demanding immediate payment of a fine or past due bill to avoid being arrested or incurring additional payment fines.

As with any call received wherein payment is requested over the phone, be diligent in requesting more information about the caller including their name, the business they are representing and a return phone number where they can be reached. If a caller refuses to provide this information, you should terminate the call and report the incident.

Whenever in doubt, contact your local law enforcement.

Remember, awareness of and education about these scams is our best tool at fighting back.

Costa Mesa Police Department
99 Fair Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 714-754-5252

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