Scam targets Latinos: 'One of them was saying the police were on their way'

Scam targets Latinos: 'One of them was saying the police were on their way' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - The scam has been around before: A caller claims to represent a utility company and demands a payment of cash by the victim to avoid having their utilities immediately cut-off.

In the past, the targets were senior citizens.

Now police say scammers are targeting the Latino community.

Tod Schneider with Eugene Police said he has tracked two cases so far targeting Latino victims.

"They direct them to go to a local outlet where they can buy a cash card that they can call the identifying numbers in with," Schneider said.

Police feel the scams are likely under-reported.

Juan Carlos Valle with the League of United Latin American Citizens agreed.

Valle said the two victims he received reports on both lost money.

"One of them was saying the police were on their way to pick them up and send them to prison if they didn't pay their bills," Valle said.

Valle said that, too often, victims don't call police, fearing their relatives will be the next scam victim. The caller may even threaten to go after family next if the target reports the call to police.

"What they need to do is hang up, call the utility board if there's an issue, or call the police 682-5111," he said.

Consumers can defend themselves by hanging up on the scammer, then calling the utility directly via the customer service numbers listed on their bill.

Lane Electric Co-op staff said if you get a call that sounds fishy, hang up and notify your local utility provider.

"Work the details out there and then report that phone call they received to the local authorities," Dave D'Avanzo with Lane Electric said. "This stuff needs to be nipped in the bud."