By Amy Shanahan
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) is eager to alert residents to a new scam that is currently taking place throughout the county. This scam involves a phone call by someone claiming to be a person of authority who is providing a public service by letting the person they called believe that a loved one has been in an accident or some other catastrophic event. The caller then aggressively attempts to extort money from the person they have called, in order to supposedly help their loved one. This aggressive behavior is intended to cause emotional distress so that the person who was called feels compelled to meet the demands.
This particular scam has been in existence for many years in various forms, but it has been noticeably prevalent in Douglas County in recent months. Lauren LeKander, the public information officer for DCSO explained, “This scam as well as several other similar ones are very common in Douglas County. Unfortunately, due to the recent officer involved shooting that resulted in Detective Brite being hospitalized, citizens of Douglas County are also getting calls from people claiming to work for the DCSO who are asking for donations for Detective Brite. This is a scam as well. The DCSO is not calling and asking for donations on his behalf.”
The DCSO is encouraging people to be aware of these scams and take the following precautionary steps if receiving phone calls requesting money. First, attempt to contact the loved one that the caller is referring to. If contact is not made, ask the caller for specific information such as the name, agency and identifier, the name and rank of the commanding officer on scene, or which police agency is handling the investigation. The DCSO suggests that if the call is legitimate, the caller will be able to answer detailed questions. However, at no time should anyone give money over the phone in these situations.
LeKander further explained, “We want people to be aware of scams like this so they can protect themselves. Some of these scammers can be very convincing and even pushy at times. We want our citizens to know that there are people out there who will lie to them to get money and other personal information from them. Citizens should do their own investigating before giving anyone any money or personal information. Ask questions to help confirm the caller’s validity. If you ever feel you’ve become a victim of a scam, please contact us to file a report.”