Bainbridge police probe extortion claim

A Bainbridge resident who has family in Puerto Rico became the victim of alleged extortion Wednesday, July 1, when he received a phone call from a person claiming to be a gang leader in his parent’s small town.

The person threatened to shoot up his parent’s house in Puerto Rico if the resident did not wire $3,000 to him.

The resident told the Bainbridge Island Police Department that although the phone call may be a scam, crimes like this are common in Puerto Rico where he is originally from.

After two hours on the phone with the “gang leader,” the resident was able to negotiate the blackmail down to $1,000.

He told officers the man called himself Barreto, a common last name in Puerto Rico, and said he owned an AK-47.

The resident contacted his parents who said they were OK. They told him that a man had called them and convinced them he was an old friend who needed the resident’s phone number. The parents gave the caller the number.

Soon after, the resident received the extortion call from Barreto.

Panicked that his elderly parents could get hurt or killed in gunfire, the resident wired the money through the Western Union at Safeway.

After the transaction, the resident called his sister in Puerto Rico to tell her what happened. She told him this was a scam and did not believe their parents were in danger.

She agreed, however, to contact a family member who is in the police force in Puerto Rico.

Likewise, the Bainbridge Island Police have forwarded the report to the FBI and FBI Field Office in Puerto Rico.


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