The reports of kidnapping scams in the rogue valley are “dwindling,” according to Ashland Police Deputy Chief Hensman, but “we still can’t let our guard down.”
On the afternoon of Wednesday February 10th, the Ashland Police force was alerted to, ‘what they had to perceive as,’ an attempted robbery at the Key Bank on Main street in downtown Ashland. “When we received the alarm, it was clear to us it was a scam. But even so, we approached it as a robbery in attempt,” Hensman explained.
According to the Ashland Police, a man who happened to be outside of Key Bank that afternoon received a call from a blocked number and answered it only to hear an aggressive voice claiming they had his loved one held captive and demanded a ransom. The man entered Key Bank and began passing notes to the teller. The teller became alarmed and another Key Bank teller called for the police.
Key Bank declined to talk about the incident, so it is unclear exactly how the exchange of notes between the teller and the man played out. Hensman was not at liberty to go into great detail either. But he did clear up as much as he could: “The notes weren’t saying he wanted money, the notes were saying he wanted help,” Hensman said. “He was scared and distressed. These scammers say very ugly things, and it can be really frightening.”
The police arrived quickly, and the man was still on the phone with the scammer. The authorities’ goal was to calm him down and convince him to hang up. They did so by contacting the man’s loved one, the same loved one the scammers claimed to have kidnapped, and proving that she was indeed okay. The man relaxed, and hung up the phone.
“Unfortunately that’s all we really can do at this point,” said Hensman. “Right now it’s impossible to catch these scammers, they’re making these calls from other countries and we can’t trace them.”
The Medford and Ashland police released this statement: “If you receive a call from a scammer, hang up, and report it to your local police.”
The Medford police have also been dealing with scammers claiming a kidnapping has occurred and demanding money as The Siskiyou reported earlier this month.