Hermiston Police News: Old Scam, A Few New Details

Release Date: 

In December of last year, Hermiston Police Chief Edmiston released information regarding a phone scam involving perpetrators claiming to be affiliated with “Publishing Clearinghouse”.  The goal of the scam was and is to convince the person contacted that they are a winner of a large amount of money (ex. $600,000, $1,000,000) but that it had recently been discovered that someone had “stolen” the winnings before they could be sent to winners.  They go on to say that the moneys had been “recovered” and were ready to be awarded to the resident.   The perpetrators tell the “winner” that were working with a law enforcement agency such at the Hermiston Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, etc., to help validate themselves.  Later, the residents would receive a call stating that the money was being held in Mexico until a fee was paid to cover taxes or an insurance charge which usually consisted of several hundred dollars.  There have been several versions of this type of scam circulating in and out of our area.  Some calls even show on caller IDs as being from the Hermiston Police Department (or other law enforcement agency) and, as is usually the case, using the actual number of the agency.  This a practice that is easily done through “spoofing software”.   This software allows for the caller to deliberately use false information on a caller ID to hide their identity.

Today, a Hermiston resident contacted the Hermiston Police to report a very similar scam but with a few additional but significant additions.   In this recent report, the perpetrators did what was described above and the caller identified himself as “Walter Simmons” from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He went on to explain to the residents that the next step would be for them to be contacted by a specific Hermiston Police officer who would have paperwork that would’ve been faxed to the department for them to complete in order to claim their winnings.  This caller even claimed that Chief Edmiston would also be calling with information.  Later in the evening, the reporting resident received not only a call from someone claiming to be a Hermiston police officer but they also received an additional call from the “Chief” to give additional information about getting their “winnings”. 

The residents were vigilant and recognized the scam, stopping their involvement.   As in previous scams, we suspect that had the perpetrator still have the residents’ interest, they would have received another call stating that they would need to “wire” money to take care of taxes or insurances, something that would keep from the money being held up in customs, another country, etc. 

We are reminding our community to be very vigilant to these types of calls and scam attempts and to check in with loved ones to educate them as well about being on the look-out for these perpetrators.  We’d like to remind everyone that the Hermiston Police Department would never being involved or participate in the transfer of money unless it is something that has been seized in the line of duty.  We would also not be a representative of any business such as “Publishing Clearinghouse” or being an agent to “winnings”.   If anyone has questions or concerns, please call or e-mail HPD’s Crime Prevention Officer Erica Sandoval at 541-667-5112 or esandoval@hermiston.or.us.

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