People being scammed out of ‘thousands of dollars,’ West Deer police chief says | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

People being scammed out of ‘thousands of dollars,’ West Deer police chief says

Madasyn Czebiniak
1108704_web1_vnd-lape-050419
Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
West Deer police Chief Jon Lape sits in his office on Thursday, May 2, 2019.

West Deer Police Chief Jon Lape has seen phone scams pop up pretty much everywhere, including his community.

In the last year, Lape said his department has received roughly a dozen calls from residents reporting phone scams.

“They seem like around March, April and now there’s a lot of them occurring,” Lape said. “People get scammed out of thousands of dollars.”

Lape said the scammers target senior citizens.

“But it’s not just limited to them,” he said.

Lape has been chief in West Deer for 16 years. The department has 12 full-time officers, including Lape, and eight part-time officers.

Lape said it’s important for his officers to have a good relationship with the community. The department does various things to strengthen that bond, such as participating in West Deer Community Days, patrolling on bikes in the summer and having police officers present in the schools.

That bond has helped the department solve crimes. Community members that have had good relationships with officers have helped solve burglaries and address drug activity.

“They trusted them and confided with them and just told them information, and it ended up into an arrest,” Lape said.

Lape said people have called the department and asked what to do when dealing with a potential phone scam.

“Don’t do anything,” Lape said.

Scammers use a variety of methods to try to scam people out of money.

One way is to call people and tell them they’re from the IRS, Lape said. The scammers will tell the victim to send them money or gift cards. If the victim doesn’t comply, the scammers threaten to get a warrant, come arrest the victim and throw them in jail.

“If anybody tells you you need to go purchase gift cards and send them somewhere — no one does that,” Lape said. “There’s no agency that would say you’re in trouble and tell you to go do that.”

Another technique is to tell victims one of their family members has been arrested and needs bail money, Lape said. The chief said people have gone to banks to try to take out money to do that.

Lape advised people not to give personal information over the phone such as their birthday, Social Security number and credit card information if they’re not sure who they’re talking to.

He said people should be cautious and not commit to anything.

If someone believes they’re a victim of a phone scam, they’re encouraged to call West Deer Police.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.