Benton County Sheriff's Office Warning Public About Scam - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County Sheriff's Office Warning Public About Scam

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BENTON COUNTY, WA - The Benton County Sheriff's Office is warning the public about a scam they need to watch out for.

Just after noon Thursday, the Benton County Sheriff's Office got a call from an anonymous person, who was very upset with the Sheriff's Office.  

The person said around noon Thursday, he received a call from someone identifying themselves as a Benton County Sheriff's Office Official.  The Official supposedly demanded the person immediately wire $3,000 or his brother would be arrested.  The person was advised that the Sheriff's Office would never do something like that and he was the victim of a phone scam.  

To date the Sheriff's Office has only received one report of this type of scam, specifically mentioning the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

"So if you receive a call, or something like this, you can rest assured, it's not from the sheriff's office or from your local police department, I'm sure. But to confirm that, call that agency and we'll be glad to talk with you," Sgt. Dan McCary of the Benton County Sheriff's Office advised.

This phone scam is a variation of a scam that has been going around the country for years.  It usually targets senior citizens.  The typical scam involves a call to the victim claiming to be his or her grandson.  They share a believable story of an involvement in an accident or criminal incident in another state or out of the country, where they have been subsequently arrested. The "grandson" asks for money to post bail and then puts a person on the line, supposedly a bail bondsman. The bondsman provides the bail amount, usually several thousand dollars, and requests that money be wired using a MoneyGram or Western Union service.  In some cases the bogus "bondsman" has been known to call back to thank the victim.

This type of scam is meant to appeal to the emotions the elderly, who feel an immediate need to help a desperate family member.  Stories range from an accident to a situation in which the "grandson" picked up a couple of hitchhikers found with drugs during a traffic stop.   Many suspects use social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook, to identify family members through profiles and photos. A check of online phone directories provides a telephone number and the scam is under way. In some cases, suspects find travel plans and give specific family information that makes the scheme more plausible.   These scams are extremely difficult to investigate because suspects usually reside outside the United States and often use cell phones discarded before they can be traced.  Any request to wire money should be seen as a red flag, because such transfers are hard to track.