Consumers across the country have recently received phone calls from “police officers,” who claim there is a warrant out for their arrest—unless they agree to hand over some money.
The problem with this, according to a statement released by the Collier County sheriff’s office, is that police don’t call criminals to notify them of arrest warrants—or accept money to have them erased.
There’s really no recourse for them. The best thing that can be done is making people aware.
As detailed in a consumer alert published on USA Today’s website, law enforcement in Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Oregon, and other states are warning of a growing phone scam in which callers who typically impersonate police officers attempt to pressure consumers into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars with threats of arrest if they don’t pay.
“The try to make this as convincing and as frightening as possible,” Kati Daffan, a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, told News 10.
A common tactic used by the callers to get consumers to answer their phones, according to the report, is to manipulate the caller ID to make the number appear to be that of a local jail or sheriff’s office. Once on the line, the scammers will tell would-be victims that there’s an outstanding warrant out for their arrest for made-up charges such as unpaid debts, missed jury duty, or other phony, minor infractions. When the nervous consumer is convinced to pay the scammer, they will then usually be instructed to send money through Western Union or by registering a prepaid credit card online for easy access.
According to Floyd County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Duke, this type of scam has been around for a long time, but “impersonating police is a new twist.” Duke admits that it’s close to impossible to track down phone scammers, especially when wire money transfers and prepaid credit cards are untraceable.
The only thing law enforcement and consumers alike can do to protect against phone scammers, according to authorities, is to spread the word.
“There’s really no recourse for them,” Duke said to News 10. “The best thing that can be done is making people aware.”