By KTVZ.com (Bend, Ore.)
No leads are available to determine who may be involved in this activity and no information has been received indicating similar calls have been made in Oregon, but the public should be aware of the possibility of such calls.
OSP General Headquarters in Salem received a phone call from a Minnesota woman inquiring about a phone call she received from a person identifying himself as "Lieutenant Johnson". This individual asked if she had a relative who lived out of state. She stated that she did have a son who lived in Oregon.
"Lieutenant Johnson" then said he was with the "Oregon Police" and was informing her that her son was involved in a traffic crash on an Oregon freeway, and that he was calling because "pre-authorization" was needed before her son could be transported by air from the scene to needed medical treatment.
As part of the "pre-authorization", she was requested to wire money to help pay for the medical transport by air. She stated that she felt this would take too much time so she asked if she could provide credit card information over the phone to pay for the cost.
"Lieutenant Johnson" said that would be allowed, so he transferred her call to another person who was the "dispatcher" for the medical air transportation service. The female "dispatcher" obtained the woman's credit card information over the phone. Prior to ending the phone call, the woman noted the phone call was blocked on caller ID so she asked for a callback number. She was denied the phone number because it was supposedly a phone line into "the dispatch center".
After ending the call, the woman said she called her
son's phone number to get more information and learned he was OK and
had not been involved in a traffic crash.
"No law enforcement agency should be acting as a go-between to obtain financial information for any business or service," said Captain Cynthia Kok of the OSP Office of Professional Standards.
"A trooper or police dispatcher may call to inform someone of medical emergency involving a family member, but that call is for the sole purpose of letting them know what has happened and where they will be transported to for treatment."
Life Flight Network Director Michelle Haun-Hood emphasizes that emergency patient care is always their first priority. "Pre-payment or pre-authorization for payment is never required at the time of transport to the hospital. Payment and insurance issues are dealt with after care has been provided," said Director Haun-Hood.