Scammers targeting Oklahomans claim to be loved ones trapped in jail, demand money

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Scammers are targeting Oklahomans by claiming to be loved ones in jail needing bail.

Ashley Zimmerman says she and her mom received multiple calls from someone claiming to be in the Oklahoma County Jail.

“She received two phone calls from Oklahoma County Jail…Who is this calling my mom at 9:30 at night,” said Zimmerman.

The person on the other end of the phone claimed to be a loved one in jail.  

“It obviously was not me. My mom was frantic…She was almost in tears and she asked me if I was ok,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman says she also received a strange call.  

“It was a man saying, hey it’s me. Pick up the phone,” she said.  

Photo goes with story
Oklahomans are reporting a scam in which a caller pretending to be a loved one asks them to send money because they’re trapped in jail.

KFOR has heard from multiple people in the last few weeks with similar stories of so-called loved ones demanding money.  

Master Sergeant Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department says these scams have been going around for a long time.

“Sadly, these types of scams are nothing new for the police department. These types of scams have been going on for many, many years,” said Knight.  

One older man who called News 4 didn’t want to be interviewed on camera, but says he was scammed out of $25,000.  

“Once they fall victim to it, their money is gone and in virtually all of these cases, the perpetrators are out of the country, so it makes it very difficult, number one to trace who it is and number two to get them back here,” said Knight.  

Thankfully, Zimmerman and her mom did not send any money but they worry for others who might.  

“It makes me really angry. I really worry about people like my grandma who are in their 80s who might be getting phone calls from the Oklahoma County Jail,” said Zimmerman.  

Knight’s advice to Oklahomans is to think twice anytime you receive a suspicious phone call.  

“Anytime someone is calling you and they want money and they want it right then, let that be a red flag for you,” he said.  

Knight recommends making a police report, but warns getting the money back is almost always impossible.  

“The money is almost certainly gone and there’s almost no repercussions for the perpetrator,” said Knight.  

Knight also warns against calls from anyone claiming to be the IRS. He says these scams are more common during tax season.  

If you or anyone you know receives a suspicious call, contacting the police is always the best option.

“Pick up the phone, call the police. We’re happy to at least give you our opinion on whether or not it’s a legitimate deal,” said Knight.

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