SCAM ALERT: Police impersonator contacts, tries to scam Burien resident

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A BTB Reader who wishes to remain anonymous alerted us that she received a “disturbing” phone call Wednesday (Feb. 19) from a man identifying himself as Lt. Jones of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“He said that because I had missed grand jury duty last week, I now had a bench warrant issued for me.

For a while, he seemed authentic, and I was quite upset (not having seen any notice and taking jury duty as a serious responsibility).

He said “you could take care if it right now over the phone and avoid being booked and held for 4-10 days”. He also discouraged me from going directly down to the police station/courthouse.

However, when I asked for his name and badge number, he disconnected.

I called back, but no response.

I immediately called the local police, and from a series of police personnel, this is clearly an active local scam. I shudder to think that people are paying scammers over the phone to avoid the threatened arrest. After filing a police report, the police operator encouraged me to spread the word in any way possible.”

UPDATE: The King County Sheriff’s Office released this info on this scam:

The King County Sheriff’s Office has received many reports that someone is calling people at home and identifying themselves as a King County Deputy and advising the person answering the phone that they have a warrant for failing to appear to a grand jury summons. The caller tells the person that if they make a payment it will keep them from going to jail. Unfortunately a few people have given money to this scam artist. Usually the caller will ask the victim to obtain some type of credit card or gift card at a local business and provide the card number to the caller.

Warning: if you are called the caller may know your name and address and phone number and demand payment to stay out of jail. DO NOT provide any money. The Sheriff’s Office would not call you if you failed to appear on any case. In some cases the suspect is identifying themselves as an IRS agent. Again, do not give money to anyone calling you on the phone.

If you have given money to one of these scam artist please call your local police department and file a report.

Keep in mind that the phones the suspects are using are usually pre-paid so they will change numbers often.

The Sheriff’s Office also reported of a similar incident that happened Feb. 14, when a white male posing as a sheriff’s deputy escaped the Renton area after encountering a real sheriff’s deputy who responded after residents called 911.

The imposter questioned residents of a Renton area apartment complex in the 14600 block of SE 176 Street, telling the residents that he was looking for an auto theft suspect. The two residents said the man wore a navy colored tee shirt with “SHERIFF” on it. He also wore dark pants and carried a holstered revolver, walkie talkie style radio, and had a knife in his pocket.

The suspicious residents called 911 when they believed that the man was impersonating a deputy. A real King County Sheriff’s deputy responded just moments later and encountered the man about 200 feet from the deputy. The deputy called out to the man who took off running behind a fence causing the deputy to lose sight of the suspect.

Several other deputies responded along with a tracking K-9 and the KCSO helicopter. Despite the available resources, deputies believe the suspect got into a nearby car and fled the area.

Both of the witnesses further described the man as being about 5’08” tall, weighing about 180 pounds, with dark brown hair, and olive skin. He is believed to be a white or Hispanic male in his 30s.

It is unknown at this time whether the police impersonator in Renton is the same as the telephone scammer.

Criminal Impersonation in the second degree (RCW 9a.60.045) is a gross misdemeanor. The King County Sheriff’s Office is asking anybody with information on this case to call (206) 296-3311.

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