Crime

Beware of scam phone calls soliciting money through prepaid cards, police say

Police are warning residents about a scam that attempts to collect money from people over the phone.

The scam involves a man with a “Southern accent” who identifies himself as a member of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office’s warrant division, according to the Bellingham Police Department. The man then tells the person who answers that they must pay a fine for skipping jury duty, and directs the person to buy a prepaid card and provide the number on the back.

The scam calls have come from 360-214-4910 or a similar number.

In a variation of the scam, the man tells the person one of their relatives is being held in jail and can only be released by providing the prepaid card data, said Bellingham police Sgt. Claudia Murphy.

Bellingham police responded to two instances of the scam Monday, Aug. 15, one at about 9 a.m., the other at about noon.

“Never, ever, ever send anybody any money or buy prepaid cards to send someone money. That is not how bail is done in this county,” Murphy said. “We would never, ever solicit money – that’s not our job. Neither does the jail.”

People who receive these calls, Murphy said, should hang up immediately. Those who feel compelled to report the scam can do so at the Federal Trade Commission’s website, at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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