Pennsylvania State Police troopers from the Kittanning barracks warned local residents about a new type of scamming that is affecting the region.
Troopers say that the new scam includes fake kidnapping. They describe that victims are contacted via phone and the caller identifies themselves as a family member that has been kidnapped. The caller requests money in order to release them from the kidnapper’s custody, and will often cry or make attempts to mask their own voice to try and persuade victims. A third person, usually a male, then gets on the phone and makes further monetary demands, and states that if they contact police, their family member will be physically harmed.
Variations to this hoax include: a loved one in jail and needing money for bond/legal fees in another state or country, a loved one involved in an automobile accident in another state and needing money for doctor/attorney bills, a loved one (usually a young child) kidnapped while coming to/from school, winning money from a foreign lottery you don’t remember entering and they need a fee to send you your winnings, etc. etc.
If residents find themselves receiving a similar phone call, State Police officials urge residents to reach out to their family members first before actually sending money to verify if they are safe. Ask questions of the caller that only family members would know the answer to. Then, call 9-1-1 if you believe they are in danger.
With the holiday shopping season underway, Pennsylvanians will be heading to malls and big box stores in search of the perfect gift for family and friends. Unfortunately, criminals will also be out – like the Grinch – looking for easy targets.
The Pennsylvania State Police offer the following tips to stay safe and reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Be aware of your surroundings. Many holiday crimes are “crimes of opportunity,” meaning thieves prey on easy targets. Try to shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you shop at night, park in well-lit areas and bring a friend or family member.
Keep valuables out of sight. Expensive presents in the back seat of an unattended car attract criminals. Lock your packages in the trunk. Don’t wear expensive jewelry and avoid flashing large amounts of cash while shopping.
Lock your car doors and take the keys. Thieves will walk through parking lots checking door handles for unlocked vehicles. Don’t make it easy for them. Lock your doors and take your keys. Every time.
Plan for packages. If you shop online, try to have packages delivered when someone will be available accept them. You don’t want your items sitting on your doorstep for several hours while you are away. Consider having packages sent to you at work, or using the mailing address of a trusted friend or relative who is home during the day.
Watch for con-artists. The holidays are a time of giving, but don’t let people take advantage of your generosity. Be wary of strangers who approach you in parking lots and only donate to recognized charitable organizations.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call 9-1-1 to report an emergency.
For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that all driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg and West Kittanning, will be closed Saturday, October 8, through Monday, October 10, in observance of Columbus Day.
Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
Driver and vehicle online services are available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com.
511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.