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OSP Warns of Fraud Scam Similar to Those Reported in Salem and Eugene
02/04/2011
Sergeant Tom Spicknall
Criminal Investigations Division
Oregon State Police - Pendleton
(541) 278-4090 ext. 4850
 
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

A scam that recently victimized a Eugene woman of $6,000 and is nearly identical to an incident reported to Salem police was attempted Thursday on a Umatilla County-area woman. The attempted scam fell short when the woman became suspicious and contacted Oregon State Police (OSP) to check on the authenticity of the caller's identification and request.
 
According to OSP Criminal Investigations Division Sergeant Tom Spicknall, on February 3, 2011 the OSP Pendleton Area Command office was contacted by a woman saying she had received a couple phone calls from someone identifying themselves as a law enforcement officer and asking her to send $3,000. The first call was from a man saying he was "FBI Agent Clark Bennett", telling her he was conducting a fraud investigation that had occurred at Publishers Clearinghouse. He said she had won a sweepstakes but that insiders had filed a forged death certificate in her father's name. In order for her to receive the money, the "agent" would need her to send a "refundable security deposit of $3,000" via Western Union. The "agent" said he would have someone from the Oregon State Police contact her to verify the authenticity of his call.
 
At approximately 1:00 p.m. she received another call from someone identifying himself as "Lieutenant Greg Sherman" from the Oregon State Police Pendleton office. The phone number displaying on her phone's caller ID is the phone number (541-278-4090) assigned to the Oregon State Police Pendleton Area Command office. "Lieutenant Greg Sherman" is the name of the OSP Area Commander at the Pendleton office.
 
After the second call she called the OSP Pendleton Area Command office to report the suspicious calls and confirmed they were fraudulent attempts to scam her.
 
The circumstances surrounding this reported incident are similar to those reported recently in Eugene and Salem.  On January 31 and February 3, police departments in Salem and Eugene issued news releases warning the public of similar incidents involving an unknown person calling people claiming to be an FBI agent conducting an investigation and asking that money be wired via Western Union to have "winnings" released from an overseas bank account. In both instances, similar to this most recent call, the "agent" said he would have a named law enforcement officer call back to confirm it was not a fraudulent call. When the second call came, the recipient's caller ID showed a true police department's phone number and the person provided a legitimate law enforcement officer's name.
 
OSP commends the woman for not falling prey to this scam and joins the FBI, Eugene and Salem police departments in warning others who may receive similar calls. "A law enforcement officer will not request that money be sent by way of a money order for any reason. Anyone who has received a similar telephone should immediately call their local law enforcement agency or Oregon State Police office," said Spicknall.
 
Some tips to avoid becoming a fraud victim include:
  • Don't give out personal or financial information to someone who calls you. If you are unsure, hang up and call the law enforcement agency who the caller is saying they work for.
  • Beware of high pressure techniques, such as the need to give information or make an immediate decision.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
 
Information regarding the Salem report is available on Salem Police Department's website at:
http://www.cityofsalem.net/Departments/Police/Pages/PressReleases.aspx
 
Information regarding the Eugene report is available on Eugene Police Department's website at:
http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_364181_0_0_18/ScamAlert_PrizeWinner_LEcontacts.pdf