AN ATYPICAL DAY ON THE STREETS OF COSTA MESA
Not your typical day with the Costa Mesa Police Department! This story is a strange one, to say the very least. Tuesday around 9:00 a.m. CMPD Traffic Investigator Darren Wood
had a very strange encounter with a citizen. Rather than try to paraphrase the event, here's the full text of the incident report from the CMPD:
morning, a Costa Mesa police officer uncovered an extortion scheme after being
flagged down by a female motorist.
morning just before 9:00 a.m., Traffic Investigator Darren Wood was driving a
marked patrol car near Harbor Blvd and Hamilton Street after completing morning
follow up work on several cases he was investigating. While in traffic, he noticed the female driver of a nearby car
honk her horn and wave at him in an apparent attempt to get his attention. Investigator Wood stopped to speak with
the female driver who was crying and visibly distraught. The female driver was speaking via her
car’s Bluetooth system with an unknown male caller who claimed he had abducted
the female’s sister who he claimed had just been injured in a serious car
Wood solicited assistance from nearby patrol Officers Novikoff and Alegado to carefully
facilitate communicating with the driver, as she appeared fearful of
terminating the phone conversation with the male caller. During lulls in the phone conversation,
officers passed written notes to the female driver who confirmed the male
caller was threatening to harm her sister if she did not complete an immediate
wire transfer to the caller through a nearby Western Union office.
complicating matters, officers were unable to immediately make phone contact
with the female driver’s sister, who was supposed to be in class at a nearby
community college. After police were
able to eventually confirm through campus security that the female driver’s sister
was unharmed and attending class, they focused their efforts on locating and
apprehending the extortion suspect.
Costa Mesa Police detectives responded into the field and worked to
isolate the suspect caller’s cell phone location, while appearing to follow his
instructions to initiate “wiring” a money transfer at a nearby Western Union in
the city. Upon confirming the suspect
was calling from Puerto Rico, officers terminated the field investigation.
learned the victim motorist had initially received the cell phone call from the
male suspect who later inquired if the victim had a sister. The suspect’s cell phone showed, on the
victim’s phone, to be located in Massachusetts. Upon learning the victim had a sister, the suspect caller
immediately asserted to the victim that her sister had been injured in a
serious car accident. The suspect caller
went on to demand that the victim not contact police, to remain on the line and
to comply with demands for completing an immediate money wire-transfer or face
having her sister harmed by a gang member working with the suspect caller.
public should be aware that these types of scenarios represent a common extortion
scheme involving cell phone “spoofing.”
“Spoofing” is successfully accomplished when a suspect phones a victim
and – through use of an application – enables the call received by the victim
to falsely show originating from a location other than the caller’s true
location. The suspect, in some
instances, is able to “spoof” the call, falsely showing a phone number familiar
to the victim. In this case, the
suspect remotely attempted an extortion scheme on the female motorist using
cell phone and money transfer technology.
schemes involve suspects phoning and contacting victims, impersonating a family
member or friend in need of “immediate assistance” in another country. After verbally disclosing limited identifying
information about a family member known by the victim, the suspect caller then
insists on arranging for the victim to wire-transfer funds to assist with
unexpected air fare or required bail to assist the family member known by the
victim. In most cases, the suspect
caller was able to previously obtain personal (identifying) information, about
the purported family member needing help, via social media sites used by the
Mesa Police detectives are completing appropriate follow up regarding this
case. Anyone with information
regarding this incident, or similar incidents, are encouraged to contact the
Costa Mesa Police Detective Bureau at 714.754.5205.
NEW OFFICERS ON THE JOB
Just a little more information for you. Those two officers who helped out with this situation are freshly-minted CMPD officers Ryan Novikoff and Arnold Alegado, seen here as the second and third men in this photo at their swearing-in ceremony in January of this year.
So, another excellent bit of police work by the folks at the CMPD. More reasons to be proud of them every day.
**INTERVIEW WITH THE VICTIM
CBS' Stacey Butler interviews the victim of this event, HERE. Worth a watch. CMPD Lt. Greg Scott gets a quick cameo, too.