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Woman warns of local scammer posing as an Olmsted County Sergeant

scam call
patti price

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- We've heard it all before: criminals scamming innocent people out of money, just with a simple phone call. It seems scammers are becoming more creative, more elaborate and more convincing.

Olmsted County officials say there have been between four and five attempted and successful scams each month over the past decade. But when targeted scam victim Patti Price came to the Government Center last week with a report, it was something the Sheriff's Office hadn't seen before.

It all started with a voicemail -- that turned into a 45 minute phone call with someone claiming to be an Olmsted County Sergeant.

"He kept saying the whole time on the phone, if you hang up on me, you'll get a call back and you will get arrested," Price said.

The voicemail stated: "This is Sgt. Lee Rossman, down at the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. Ms. Price, I've been trying to reach you for several days now ma'am. Obviously I haven't been successful."

The caller asked Price to call him back immediately.

"This is a new twist," Olmsted County Sheriff's Department Captain Scott Behrns said. While the Department has seen a steady flow of scams over the years, it hadn't seen a scam involving someone posing as someone in uniform before.

Price wasn't on the phone with the real Sergeant Lee Rossman -- this was a scammer, posing as Rossman and demanding money from Price. Threatening her with arrest for supposedly missing jury duty last month.

"The unique thing about this is that they identified themselves as one of our own," Capt. Behrns said. "Sergeant Rossman, who works in the Government Center Security and Transport Division."

The scammer gave Price two options: pay a flat out fee, or potentially face jail time.

"I said, 'what am I going to do with this $2,000 when I get it?' 'Well, you're going to go to the Government Center and we will process it,'" Price said. "And that's when I started to have red flags go off. Like, why is it urgent that I pay this right now?"

Although the caller did convince her to drive over to the Government Center, luckily, Price didn't fall for it.

"I said, 'well, how do I know this isn't a scam?'" Price said, reliving the phone call. "And he said, 'Ms. Price, I am a County Sheriff and I'm asking you to come to the Government Center."

Even though Price avoided losing thousands, it doesn't mean someone else won't fall for it. Price hopes her story will shed light on phone call scams.

"Biggest red flags for a scam; anytime anyone asks you to pay for something in a form of a card, money order or that you've won something but in order to claim your winnings you have to pay, that's a scam. Okay? That's a scam," Capt. Behrns said.

He adds that scammers are going to want to keep you on the phone until they get what they want, so if something seems fishy, hang up. Most phone call scams come from overseas, and like the scam in Price's case, have the technology to fake an area code. Capt. Behrns says an accent could be a red flag for a scam call. Lastly, Capt. Behrns urges people to educate their loved ones who could be vulnerable.

Beret Leone

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