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Yakima Police warn people to be cautious of online scammers

YAKIMA, Wash.- Have you ever received a phone call, email, or text offering you money or the trip of a lifetime?

If you have, you're not alone.

Scams are on the rise and happening right here in the valley.

"It got my hopes up and yet I knew it was a scam," Paul Tilley, a local target for a Facebook scam.

Tilley is just one of many not just in Yakima, but nationwide that's been targeted by internet scammers.

Yakima police say they receive reports regularly and have had some people lose up to $8,000.

"The reason why these scammers continue to try to scam people is because they're successful at some level,” said Mike Bastinelli, Yakima Police Department’s Spokesperson.

Police say scammers can be very advanced in their plots, making it seem realistic.

Tilley said at first the Facebook scam he was involved in started off as a normal friend request from a woman in Iowa.

"And it said that she was a claims agent for Facebook and I thought what a great person to be involved with," said Tilley.

But then a few weeks later things changed.

"I somehow won a lotto, A Facebook lotto for $650,000," said Tilley.

Which was great news for Tilley, except to receive his prize he was asked to send money to them first to have the check sent to his home.

"And I thought hmmm… something's fishy here," said Tilley.

Bastinelli say a request for money is always a giveaway that there's a scam involved.

"If the scammers claim that you have won a prize, but in order to collect that prize they require some sort of payment it's a scam," said Bastinelli.

Tilley trusted his instinct and started doing some research and discovered the phone number to the woman was not a real number.

He also noticed many of the messages had broken English or weren't conversational.

Bastinelli says scams like these are common and nearly impossible to track.

He says a good rule of thumb is to never give out personal information or answer calls or emails from people you don't know.

"It's better to be safe than sorry. Because you could potentially lose thousands and thousands of dollars and it's happening ... It's happening in this community," said Bastinelli.

Yakima police say they encourage you to contact them immediately if you receive any suspicious texts, emails, or calls that you believe might be a scam.

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