Montgomery Co. phone scam preys on family ties

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON – At least two people have been bilked out of hundreds of dollars by a phone scam that has been hitting Montgomery County.

At least six incidents have occurred in the county since Feb. 20, with two residents falling for the pitch and losing money in the process.

Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Rebecca Innocenti says a caller will tell the target that their son has been in a car accident and kidnapped, and they must wire money to either Puerto Rico or Florida to get their family member back.

In another pitch, the target was told his brother was shot.

Then the caller asks for $500 to $800.

One victim from Rockville fell for the first pitch and wired money.

“If you send some money to them, sometimes they’ll come up with another excuse on why you need to send more money,” says Innocenti.

The other case involved a Rockville couple who were told their son had been in a car accident and struck with a gun, tied up and taken to an apartment. They wired money to Florida before they found out their son was safe.

Innocenti says the calls appear to be from a local phone number but the call is actually coming from outside the country.

It’s a technique known as “spoofing” where the caller is able to provide a fictitious number to caller I.D.

Innocenti says in most of the cases, as soon as the people who received the calls started asking very specific questions, the caller hung up.

She says similar calls have been made in neighboring jurisdictions over the last few weeks.

Those who receive similar phone calls are advised to call their local police.

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