Orange Police looking stateside for connection to recent phone scam; breakdown warning signs

Published 12:14 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

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When telephone scammers target unsuspecting local residents, the criminals are routinely operating from out of the country.

“These guys are extremely difficult to catch,” Captain Jonathan Baggett said.

However, Baggett said, Orange Police Department investigators are working on a recent scam case that might hit a little closer to home.

“Through the investigation, we found some things that makes us believe this is not necessarily a local person, but local as in they are stateside,” Baggett said. “They are not local to our town or Beaumont or Port Arthur, just local as maybe within the state or close proximity.”

It was July 20 that Orange Police put out word of a local victim who reported receiving a phone call stating a relative was arrested and in custody in Houston.

The scammer stated cash was required for the bond and release of the relative.

The victim collected the requested amount of cash, and the scammer said a third party would come to the victim’s home to collect the cash.

This scam resulted in the loss of a “significant” amount of money for the Orange resident.

Despite the public push last week to share the information across the city, Baggett said that was the only case reported to police.

“I’m sure there were others, but maybe they didn’t have a monetary loss, so they didn’t feel the need to report it to the police department,” he said. “Typically, when we get one, we get several. We were trying to get ahead of it (with the release). Once or twice a year, we put out those kinds of press releases because someone was taken advantage of and lost a significant amount of money.”

The city’s Criminal Investigations Division is leading the police response.

If anyone has information about the scam, call Orange Police at 409-883-1026 or Southeast Texas Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS (8477).

Tipsters can visit or download the P3 TIPS app. You will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Although the scammers’ stories routinely change, the template for the crimes remains the same.

Baggett said it is common for scammers to say, “hey, I’m a relative. I need the money because” of whatever the case may be.

“They will lead (the potential victim) through on how to obtain the money, deposit it or send it through a Western Union or something like that,” he warns. “Everything is textbook as far as how they come about it, who they are targeting. Typically, it is elderly folks who are more easily convinced to do this kind of thing. This was just a relative that was arrested in Houston who was in custody and needed so much money in order to get out of jail. It is a typical scam we see.”

As a warning, with anything law enforcement-related, Baggett said police agencies would never call a resident and demand money on the spot for immediate action to take place.