Scam callers are at it again, and a Bend woman says she recently almost fell for one scammer falsely claiming to be a Deschutes County sheriff’s deputy.
Last Thursday, Dr. Sabrina Hadeed, a licensed professional counselor, said she received a phone call from a number she did not recognize. She said she did not answer the call because she was in a session with client at the time.
Moments later, she said, she received two voicemail messages from the same number.
The first message came from someone identifying himself as “Deputy Kyle Turpen with the Deschutes County sheriff’s department.” He asked Hadeed to call him back at a number that did not match the caller ID.
Hadeed told NewsChannel 21 the second call seemed more urgent. The message said: “This is Sgt. Kyle Turpen from the Deschutes County sheriff’s department. I’m just trying to contact you again, ma’am. I’m just going to keep playing phone tag. If you would, please call at your earliest convenience.”
Hadeed said she started showing signs of panic. Her heart started beating faster, and she started to sweat.
“The first place that my mind went was my husband and my daughter,” Hadeed said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, my husband’s been in an accident, the sheriff’s trying to reach me, my daughter’s been kidnapped!’ Like, I was really scared.”
When Hadeed called the number back, the man pretending to be Sgt. Turpen told her that she, or someone else, had signed a subpoena and that she had failed to appear in court. The caller claimed in her failure to do so, the court case had to be postponed.
Hadeed said the man then asked her to pay off two citations: $1,500 for the failure to appear in court and another $1,500 for “jeopardizing the case.”
She described the caller as “very convincing.”
“You know, my heart rate’s going, he’s confusing me, he’s scaring me, he’s using all of these psychological manipulation tactics to really get me to do what he wants me to do,” Hadeed said.
She agreed to meet the man, who she still believed was a deputy at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Then, things took a turn.
“He said, ‘Well ma’am, you’re welcome to do whatever you want, you’re welcome to head to the sheriff’s department, but if you show up here without the voucher and the paid citations, you will be detained,'” Hadeed said.
Hadeed consulted her sister, who is an attorney, for advice. They searched for the caller’s phone number online, and it did not match with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. She also shared the voicemail message with the real sheriff’s office, and they confirmed it was not legitimate.
NewsChannel 21 spoke Monday with sheriff’s Lt. Chad Davis, who and he said these types of scam calls are becoming more and more common in Central Oregon.
“We don’t do business that way,” Davis said, repeating advise the agency often gives in such cases. “So if someone has a warrant, a deputy would come in person to their house to serve that warrant. We don’t call people over the phone. We certainly don’t ask for money over the phone.”
Hadeed said contrary to most reports, it’s not just elderly people who fall victim to scam calls. Some people who have gone through traumatic events or suffer from mental illnesses are also among the most vulnerable.
“Even not having gone through with it, I still felt foolish. I still felt embarrassed,” Hadeed said. “These scam artists are exceptionally skilled at what they do.”