The public is being tricked by jail inmates and others through a phone scam.
This fraud has occurred off and on for many years in different parts of the country. This notice has been shared with the public by the LASD and the news media many times over the past few years.
Each time it is shared, it results in a major decrease in victims and potential victims contacting the LASD. There has again been an increase in reports of this scam and we are asking you to forward this to your family, friends and colleagues to help them avoid it.
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The explanation follows, but the most important thing to know is that you should not call any phone number starting with *72 unless you want to forward all your calls to that phone number.
Members of the public have been calling the Sheriff’s Department and asking to talk to a specific deputy, detective, or sergeant who had just called them. The real deputy who answers the phone explains they are mistaken, as the named deputy does not exist or is not on duty.
The scam begins by the victim caller receiving a call from a person claiming to be a deputy. This imposter tells the victim that one of their family member’s has been incarcerated or involved in an accident. The imposter then informs the victim caller that their family member provided the victim caller’s name as an emergency contact.
The victim caller is then instructed to call a number that begins with *72 (Example: *72-323-555-1212) to get the information they will need. When the victim caller hangs up and dials the number provided, they are told they have a wrong number.
Concerned for the safety of their family member, the victim caller usually then calls an information line (4-1-1) and asks for a number to the Sheriff’s Department. They are then connected with a real deputy.
However, since the victim caller used the prefix *72 to initiate their last phone call, they have just automatically forwarded all their incoming calls to the scammer’s phone number (These include collect calls from inmates who want to avoid paying for collect calls). The billing for these forwarded calls goes to the victim caller until they turn off call forwarding on their phone (usually by dialing *73).
If not careful, victims can be scammed out of a lot of money in collect-call fees before they find this out.
Do Not Dial *72 unless you want to forward your calls.
If you have been involved in this scam, and you have already dialed a number beginning with *72, contact your phone service provider to learn how to shut off automatic call forwarding.