The Boston Police Department is advising residents to be aware of an ongoing phone extortion scam. In some cases, victims have received a phone call by an individual impersonating their child or loved one. The imposter will call, sounding very upset, claiming to have been involved in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in injuries to the other party involved and that they have been arrested on charges of Operating Under the Influence. The caller is able to provide sufficient details and context to make the scenario believable. The victim is then contacted or directed to contact an individual claiming to be an appointed public defense attorney seeking to obtain bail money for their loved one’s release. In one recent instance, the victim was told one sum only to be re-contacted by the fake attorney who informed the victim that a person in the other vehicle had now been pronounced deceased and that the bail amount had tripled. In truth, there was no accident and no one had been injured or arrested.

Phone extortion scams continue to become more complex and involved while ongoing Covid-19 restrictions can make it more challenging in some instances to confirm the status of the child or loved one involved.

Residents that receive a call similar to the above scheme are advised to:

  • Attempt to contact the person involved through your normal channels of communication to confirm their wellbeing.

  • Ask the caller for specific information about where the family member is located.

  • Have the caller physically describe the family member to see if the caller can provide some level of detail that could help confirm or dispel the claim.

  • Note the phone number where the call or text originated and report the incident to the Boston Police Department or your local area police immediately.

In addition to filing a report with the Boston Police Department, victims are encouraged to report any Phone or Internet Fraud Scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Go online: ftc.gov/complaint