Police warn of text extortion scam

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Associated Press

Posted on August 17, 2014 at 2:01 PM

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — A highly unusual — and threatening — text message scared a Bowling Green woman enough that she contacted the police.

Officer Ronnie Ward said the woman, whose name has not been released, received a message earlier this week detailing a contract taken out on her life and asking for money to prevent the killing from being carried out.

Ward told the Daily News (http://bit.ly/XnDowD ) the texter asked for $1,500 to be sent through Western Union and then another $1,500 after the first payment was received. Ward says the woman was promised protection from harm if she paid.

Ward took the complaint from the woman and answered the text using his police department issued cellphone. The texter told Ward to send the money to a Susan Jackson in Dayton, Ohio. The phone number that sent the text messages was not registered to a Susan Jackson.

The phone number didn't come back to anyone," Ward said. "They asked me to send $1,500. No original texting had been done with me."

As soon as the texter received the first $1,500, the texter said he would meet personally to accept the second payment. As soon as the texter confirmed the first money transfer, he texted, "you are safe as long as you are with me," Ward said.

"I can deduce from his conversation with me ... he's having multiple conversations and can't keep up with who he has sent this to. I would find it unusual that two people in Bowling Green would have contracts on their lives at the same time from the same telephone number," Ward said.

Police do not know who made the original text or if it actually came from the number displayed on the victim's cellphone.

Ward said a device attached to the Internet allows people to make calls at a low cost and scammers use devices that allow incoming phone calls to appear from any number they choose.

Ward said anyone receiving such a message should tell the sender to stop contacting them and file a report with the police.

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Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com

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