A scam involving someone posing as a law enforcement officer threatening to arrest you for not responding to a jury summons is being perpetrated on local seniors.
We talked to a Redmond man who was scammed out of $500 just last week.
“He was very good. He had me right where he wanted me.”
Donald Ball was making coffee when he got a call from a man who identified himself as Sergeant Benjamin Smith of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
The caller told Ball he would immediately be arrested if he did not pay a fine in cash.
“I stayed on the line with him. I followed his instructions because I did not want to get arrested,” Ball said.
The caller instructed Ball to purchase a cash credit card and deliver it to the lobby of the sheriff’s office where he would keep other officers from placing Ball in handcuffs.
“When I walked into the lobby of the sheriff’s department…that’s when I realized this whole process with ‘Sergeant Benjamin Smith’ was not real and I felt embarrassed,” Ball said. “I thought I was smarter than that because I’ve avoided other scams.”
Don Ball is not alone.
A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office investigator assigned to the case told Ball a local woman was recently scammed out of $2,000 by the same scam.
“You need to be on alert,” said Denise LeBuda of the Central Oregon Council on Aging. “Folks will scam you with the financial side of your life, your savings and checking accounts, if you have a mortgage. They will try to say that you have a new gift card of something that you have won. Others will try to offer you ways to cut the line. We have a lot of scammers for example with COVID.”
The Central Oregon Council on aging says scammers prey on older adults because they have nest eggs, own their homes, have excellent credit and are trusting and polite by nature.
Unfortunately, many seniors are isolated and lonely and welcome a phone call from people who sound friendly.
“So they get pulled into this scam through a longer conversation. And they enjoy the conversation and not fully pay attention to this information and sometimes they get taken.”
Four ways to avoid getting scammed:
Be on alert all the time
Check your financial statements to ensure everything is in order
Be aware that many scams are perpetrated by friends and family.
“I need it to get out there to other seniors who could be victims,” Ball said. “I’d hate this to happen to my mother. I would just be sickened.”