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Protect Yourself: Scammers Posing as Deputies Targeting Southern California Residents

Pasadena Police Dept. Entrance
Pasadena Police Dept. Entrance

In a disturbing new trend, scammers are preying on unsuspecting Southern Californians by posing as local law enforcement officers. The age-old phone scam has taken on a new level of sophistication, leaving victims shaken and confused.

One such victim, Carolyn Jaques, experienced the chilling effect of this scam while working at her spa in Pasadena. A seemingly authoritative voicemail left her with a sense of urgency, leading her to call the number back immediately. Little did she know, she was about to be caught in a web of deceit.

The caller, claiming to be from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, insisted that Jaques had a warrant for her arrest due to failure to appear in court for jury duty. The scammer went as far as connecting her to another person claiming to be a deputy, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

“He kept repeating my address at home and he kept telling me, ‘You cannot go home. We have squad cars waiting at your home,’” Jaques recalled.

The scammers used tactics to isolate and control Jaques, forbidding her to speak to anyone else and instructing her to head immediately to the Pasadena Courthouse. Astonishingly, the scammer's phone number matched the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s official number, adding an extra layer of credibility to the ruse.

With her husband driving her to the courthouse, the caller continued to threaten Jaques, demanding a payment of $1,850 as a fine to avoid immediate arrest. It was at this point that Jaques, exhausted and confused, hung up the phone and entered the courthouse, prepared to surrender to authorities.

However, the reality hit when she discovered it was all a scam.

According to Lt. Monica Cuellar from the Pasadena Police Department, scammers are using sophisticated software to display legitimate business numbers on victims' phones, adding to the convincing nature of their calls.

The aftermath of the scam left Jaques' friend scammed out of $1,200 using a similar script involving legal threats and instructions to pay through a Coinstar Bitcoin Machine.

While it remains unclear how scammers accessed Jaques' personal information, she suspects it may have been through voter registration logs. In California, voter registration records are generally public, making residents vulnerable to such scams.

Authorities are urging the public to stay vigilant and watch out for red flags. Lt. Cuellar emphasized that no law enforcement department would demand payment over the phone, and individuals should never disclose personal or financial information in such situations.

As these scams persist in Southern California, it is crucial for residents to be aware, stay informed, and report any incidents to local law enforcement agencies. The key to protecting oneself is to remain skeptical and, when in doubt, hang up.

Source: KTLA


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