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Police Issue Multiple-Fraud Alert

Scam artists are practicing more than one type of telephone fraud on Napa residents, according to NPD Lieutenant Gary Pitkin, who issued this alert Wednesday afternoon.

The (NPD) has recently experienced a significant increase in the number of fraud reports. In an effort to increase public awareness, we have provided a general description of the some of the more common techniques currently being perpetrated against members of our community. 

One of the more common scenarios is similar to the following

A person calls the targeted victim and immediately says either “Grandma” or “Grandpa” to the person answering the phone.

In response, the intended victim will frequently respond with a grandchild’s name, which the suspect uses during the remainder of the conversation.

The suspect, posing as the victim’s “grandchild,” will relay a story wherein he or she has been arrested in a foreign country.

If confronted about sounding different, the suspects will tell their intended victim that he or she recently suffered a broken or injured nose as a result of a vehicle collision in which he or she was found at fault.

The “grandchild” will then beg the intended victim not to tell anyone that he or she is in jail, and asks the intended victim to send money to the falsely- impersonated grandchild’s lawyer to bail him or her out of jail.

If the victim agrees, the suspect will provide the victim with the name and address of the “grandchild’s” lawyer, to whom the victim should send money via money order. The amount usually requested is approximately $2,500. 

The suspects in this scam are very convincing and will attempt to get the intended victims to send money as soon as possible by playing on our human emotions. Please do not send any money before confirming the identity of the caller and the validity of the “emergency.” 

Warning signs: 

- No previous knowledge of the intention of family members to travel out of country. 

- Caller asking you to spell their last name for their lawyer. 

- Caller asking you to not contact any other family members before sending the money. 

- Receiving a call from a relative that you have not had contact with for a long time.  

Prevention

Before sending any monies to a relative, please make sure that you are actually talking to them. An easy way of doing that is to have the caller provide specific information that only the real person should know such as: 

- What are the names of their siblings? 

- What are their parents’ names? 

- What is their full name (be careful to not provide this information)? 

- What is their birthdate? 

Another common scenario is as follows

A person calls and informs the intended victim that he or she has won a lottery in a foreign country. The money can reportedly be delivered that same day if the intended victim will pay the taxes and cover related processing fees. The intended victim is told that he or she cannot receive the winnings, usually reported to be around $250,000, until the intended victim sends money to cover the taxes. Intended victims are often provided with a fictitious U.S. Customs agent’s name, badge number, and telephone number for contact. The intended victim is requested to send money via money order, generally in the amount of $2,500 to a specific individual, so the monies can be released to the victim. 

In some reports, the suspects have told intended victims they will personally deliver the check to the victim’s residences later in the day. Some suspects have gone so far as to tell the intended victims they will be bringing them a brand new car as part of their winnings. If the suspects are successful in the initial attempt, they may continue to call the victim, asking for more money to cover new fees. 

The suspects in these scenarios are very convincing and will call intended victims multiple times in an attempt to get them to send money. 

Warning signs: 

- You have never been to the country they claim to be calling from. 

- You have never entered into a lottery in that country. 

- The caller is asking you to send money to them to cover fees. 

Prevention

Remember that lotteries won in the United States do not require monies to be sent to cover the taxes prior to collecting the prize. Be very suspicious of any reports of lotteries won in foreign countries, especially when you have never been there or entered into a lottery in that country. Ask how the caller: 

- How did I win? 

- Who entered my name into the contest? 

- What country is this lottery from? 

- How did you get my information? 

If you have never been there and participated in the specific lottery, please know it is a scam. 

The scenarios described are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of active scams, merely a description of the two most prevalent scams recently reported in our community. The best way to protect yourself from being a victim, is to be suspicious of anything that sounds too good to be true. 

Remember- 

1. Do not provide your personally identifying information or account information to anyone over the telephone. 

2. Do not send anyone money unless you have verified the callers true identity, intent, and purpose. 

More information related to crime prevention can be found on the Napa Police Department’s website under “Crime Prevention.” Users can also visit www.cityofnapa.org, and then select “City Departments,” then “Police.” Once on the Police Department’s page, select “Crime Prevention.”

Users can also contact our Crime Prevention Officer at 707-258-7885. 

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