Montana law enforcement agencies are warning Montanans to be careful about calls from people claiming to be Montana law enforcement.
Havre Police Chief Kirk Fitch and the Montana Highway Patrol have sent out warnings this week to raise awareness of a new scam that appears to be duping victims across the state.
An email from Fitch warns of “a new twist to the ‘grandson’ or ‘relative’ scam, ” where a caller claims to be a friend or relative in a desperate situation, who needs financial help quick.
“A sense of urgency to help their friend/contact may cause the recipient to fail to validate the claim, increasing the likelihood of them falling for this scam, ” Fitch’s email said. “The new scam is being perpetrated by individuals portraying themselves as members of law enforcement. ”
The Montana Highway Patrol also warns of officer-impersonating extortion.
“They call a residence and tell them that a family member was in a crash or arrested, ” an MHP press release said. “They tell the family member that they need to send them money in order to get him/her released or the charges dropped from a Felony to a Misdemeanor.
“The Montana Highway Patrol will not call you to have you send money by mail or take a credit card over the phone. If an actual arrest of an individual has been made, the money will either be paid directly to a court or at the Sheriff’s Detention Center where you will be given a receipt for your payment when you pick up the incarcerated person. ”
Fitch said this scam has claimed victims in other cities in Montana, and offered advice for Havre residents to avoid the same fate.
“The scam has been used recently in Kalispell / Columbia Falls and Great Falls, ” Fitch said in the email. “Additionally, and especially when dealing with individuals who claim to be from law enforcement and have contacted you by phone, please call back on a verified phone number. You can look up any law enforcement agency's phone number on the internet/phone book or call 411 and ask for the agency phone number. ”
People who run into this scam can report it at http://www.ic3.gov, the Internet Crime Complaint Center.