HPD warns of phone call scammers targeting Asian community

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HOUSTON, TX – Another reason to hate calls from strange numbers: Scammers are conning Houstonians by phone.

The callers pretend to be police officers or working for the IRS.

“They will have complainants’ names, phone numbers, dates of birth, partial social security numbers, addresses,” said HPD officer Eric Mehl. “They will have some kind of identifying information.”

They use the information to convince scared callers that they have to pay up to avoid arrest.

“They tell the complainant that they owe money, either back taxes or fines or something like that,” Mehl said. “They threaten them with arrest or deportation if they don’t cooperate.”

Scammers are targeting the Asian immigrant community in particular, HPD says, because they know even legal immigrants will be afraid of deportation.

Annie Lee received one of these calls the other night.

“He said he had an outstanding warrant for my arrest because I missed a grand jury appearance back on march the 14th,” Lee said.

The caller tried to get her to load money onto a prepaid debit card at Walmart.

Lee was suspicious, so she did exactly what HPD is asking and reported it.

“Get as much information out of these callers as you can,” Mehl said. “There’s no threat of arrest or deportation in any of these instances.”

Trying to scam people is bad enough, but preying on the fears of people legally in our city? That’s just low.