Deputy dialed into scam

October 26, 2005

Hood River County Sheriff Deputy Don Dillenbeck was surprised to learn that the government wanted to send him $5,000 last week just for being a good citizen.

But he had been even more surprised several days earlier when he was notified of winning a $12,500 government grant. His surprise was magnified by the fact that he had not even applied for the money.

Dillenbeck received both telephone calls while relaxing at home after a busy day on patrol. His surprise quickly turned to suspicion when the callers, both with heavy Middle Eastern accents, requested personal information. They claimed that it would be impossible to send him the funds without a date of birth, social security number and banking account data.

“I told them just to send the checks in the mail because the government surely had my address. But they insisted that a check could not be issued because that was not the way things were done,” he said.

After listening to the calls, Dillenbeck informed his “benefactors” that he worked in law enforcement. And then he began asking for more information.

“I told them that I believed this was a scam – and that they had called the wrong person,” he said.

However, he said the second man on the other end of the line was undeterred in his quest. Even after Dillenbeck hung up on him, a “supervisor” called back in an attempt to convince him that the monetary gift was genuine.

“I then insisted again on having a check sent to me and this individual told me that he worried about the potential for mail theft,” said Dillenbeck, “I told him that I’d take that chance, but he still refused to issue a check.”

The deputy traced the phone numbers for both apparent scams. The first call had originated from Alabama instead of Florida as he had been told. The other call appeared to have been made from outside of the U.S.

“The government doesn’t just call you up and offer you money. But we are starting to get reports from other people in Hood River County that are also getting these offers,” he said. “We want to caution people never to give out personal information over the phone unless they know who they are dealing with and that it’s a reputable agency.”

Dillenbeck said telephone fraud artists use varied angles for gaining access to your bank account. But the end game is the same, he said, and that is the theft of your money or your identity.

“Generally, people can get your name, telephone number and even your address off someone’s mailing list or through an Internet search. However, they need your personal information to really accomplish a crime,” said Dillenbeck.

Another scammer appears to be working the Hood River area, according to City Police Officer Tiffany Hicks.

She said two women came into the police department last week to report that they were the victims of a fraudulent transaction. Both subjects had paid for a photographer to take family pictures outside of a studio. However, the male subject never showed up for the appointment and they had been unable to locate him. Hicks said the man approached his victims on the street and showed them samples of his work. He then made arrangements for the photo shoots, taking some money upfront, but never showed up at the scheduled time. And the business information that he gave them turned out to be bogus, according to Hicks.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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