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Scammers are calling Northern Virginia residents, claiming to represent Virginia State Police and demanding money.
VSP is warning about the scam, saying it never collects fines over the phone. Those who get a call from a scammer are encouraged to hang up immediately.
More from a VSP press release:
Virginia State Police is warning Northern Virginia residents about a consumer phone scam that appears to come from the Division VII Headquarters in Fairfax.
In the scam, the caller states they are from Virginia State Police and threatens to arrest the recipient unless the recipient pays a certain amount of money, usually around $5,000.
Anyone who receives such a phone call is urged to hang up on the caller. However, these callers can be especially aggressive, making repeated calls in a short period of time.
Virginia State Police will never attempt to collect fines via phone.
Consumers are urged to use the following tips from the Federal Communications Commission when dealing with phone scammers:
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
Consumers who receive such calls can file a complaint with the FCC online.
Police said multiple residents reported receiving phone calls from someone either claiming to be a Sheriff’s Deputy or with another local law enforcement agency, accusing them of failing to appear for jury duty.
The scammer then said a warrant for their arrest was to be issued unless a fine is paid over the phone.
Earlier this month, a reader reported receiving a call of this nature from a man claiming to be a Sgt. Jimmy Jackson with Arlington police. The reader said the caller did not ask for money right away, but instead stated that they had to schedule an in-person affidavit, and the money paid would arrange that.
Police and the Sheriff’s Office warned of a similar scam earlier this year.
More from an ACPD press release:
If you receive a call of this nature, immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703.228.4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. Also, never provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone.
Subjects will use a variety of different phone scams and the Arlington County Police Department wants the public to be aware of the recent string of scams and past cases so you don’t become a victim. In addition to the recent jury duty scam, the Police Department has received fraud reports in the past regarding utility companies threatening to shut of services if not provided immediate payment; IRS collecting fees for unpaid taxes; and family members allegedly being held hostage or having suffered injury requiring payment. If you receive a call of this nature, please hang up immediately and report this information to the non-emergency line. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud can contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at [email protected] or visit the police website.
Police originally warned of the scam last month. It involves a caller claiming to be from the police department or Sheriff’s Office, demanding payment of a fine for failure to appear for jury duty. Police say the scammer threatens to arrest the victim unless they’re paid with Green Dot MoneyPak cards.
The Arlington County Police Department, along with Sheriff’s Office, are reminding residents of phone scams occurring across Arlington that involve a transaction using a Green Dot MoneyPak.
Recently, victims have received phone calls from an individual(s) claiming to be a Lieutenant with the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office and accusing them of failing to appear for jury duty. The subject claims a warrant for their arrest would be issued unless fines are paid immediately through MoneyPak cards. Additional claims of these scam artists have included falsely representing the Arlington County Police Department’s Warrant Services Division and even name current judicial officials during the conversation.
The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office continue to urge residents upon receiving a call of this nature, to immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703.228.4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. It is also important to note, that under no circumstance would an Arlington County Office require a financial payment via a MoneyPak card. This tactic only allows money to be transferred to an account without using identification.
After making a verification call, if you find that you were a victim of a scam or were a target, please file an online police report at http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/police/incident/new/start-report.html or call the non emergency police line at 703.558.2222.
The missed jury duty scam is just the latest approach these criminals are taking. Past scams have included individuals claiming to be from utility companies collecting for past due bills, tax collection agencies for unpaid taxes and lottery officials claiming residents have won money. You can assist law enforcement agencies by spreading the word about these scams so that neighbors and/or family members don’t become victims.
According to police, residents are getting a call from someone fraudulently claiming to be from the Arlington Sheriff’s Office.
The caller then demands the resident pay a “fine” for supposedly not appearing for jury duty.
From an ACPD press release:
At least three incidents were reported yesterday, February 24, 2014, where Arlington residents received a phone call from an individual claiming to be a Lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office. Each time, the victim is accused of failing to appear for jury duty and a warrant for their arrest will be issued unless a fine is paid immediately via a moneypak card. The amount of the fictitious fine has ranged from $150-$350.
If you receive a call of this nature, immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703.228.4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.
After making a verification call, if you find that you were a victim of a scam or were a target, please file an online police report athttp://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/police/incident/new/start-report.html or call the non emergency police line at 703.558.2222.
Police say an increasing number of Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scamsters claiming to be bill collectors.
The police department issued the following press release today regarding the fraudulent phone calls.
The Arlington County Police Department has recently seen an increase in reports of telephone scams. There have been at least four instances where a man with a thick Indian accent has called victims claiming to be a bill collector. This suspect was quite aggressive over the phone and one woman was pressured into giving him her bank account number.
These, and all phone fraud cases may be prevented by utilizing simple tips regarding your personal information.
- Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. Legitimate companies don’t call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.
- Never give your bank account, social security, or credit card number to anyone you don’t know or cannot trust.
- If the person is from a legitimate bill collector, they should have paperwork to prove it.
- Say no to any offer or deal that is only available “right” now.
- If you are offered a prize but are asked to pay for a “processing fee” or “taxes” is advance, it is likely a scam.
- Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity, this includes police department “unions or associations”.
- Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
- When an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.Other popular scams are elaborate stories concerning a friend or loved one.
- A friend e-mails you from a foreign country where they were robbed and need money wired for assistance.
- Someone has hired a “hitman” to kill you, but if you pay him, he will spare your life because you are a good person.
- Your grandchild is stranded in a foreign country and needs money wired to them to get home.
The Arlington County Police Department understands that it may be embarrassing to fall for these scams, but we urge you to report phone and e-mail fraud if you encounter it at 703 228-4300 or www.arlingtonva.us/police.
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By Del. Patrick Hope
An elderly constituent recently contacted my office upset over a phone call from someone claiming to be a Deputy with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. The caller accused my constituent of failing to appear for jury duty and said a warrant for his arrest was coming unless he paid a fine.
My immediate instinct was that this was a scam. We contacted the Arlington Sheriff’s Office and confirmed that it was. Fortunately, no money was exchanged, but it’s easy to go from being the target of a scam to the victim of one.
Scams are a growing problem–and we need to do much more to prevent them. Other examples reported to me include “utility companies” threatening to shut off services if not provided immediate payment; the “IRS” collecting fees for unpaid taxes; and family members allegedly having suffered an illness requiring payment. Scams can come through a phone call, email, or door-to-door salesperson. Someone may offer computer tech support and then gain access to the victim’s computer and bank accounts; a scammer may say you’ve just won a sweepstakes and need to wire money to pay fees, or offer to do home repairs, especially after a storm.
Scammers’ favorite targets? The elderly and other vulnerable adults, due to isolation, disability or cognitive impairments. A recent study lists Virginia as having the fifth-highest rate of fraud crime targeting older adults, noting “More than one in five Virginia seniors fell victim to elder fraud in the past year.” It estimated $1 billion was stolen in roughly 265,000 cases. And this was just what we know, since the vast majority of cases go unreported, often because of the victim’s embarrassment.
Unfortunately, it’s not just strangers who financially exploit elderly and vulnerable adults. It’s frequently a relative, caregiver or someone in a position of trust. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Services reported 1,016 cases of financial exploitation in 2015. But since most cases go unreported, the agency estimated there were probably more than 44,000 incidents that year. With an estimated average loss of $28,000 per victim, such exploitation costs victims $1.2 billion.
Bank tellers are often the last line of defense when it comes to preventing financial exploitation. This year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law to give financial institutions the ability to refuse a transaction if they believe it may involve financial exploitation. This law also empowers those institutions to report their good faith suspicions, with immunity, to their local or state adult protective services.
According to police, an unknown man called the woman, saying he had kidnapped her daughter and would harm her unless he received a payment. The woman called police, but not before withdrawing money for a potential ransom payment. Officers located the woman’s daughter and confirmed that the kidnapping claim was a scam, stopping any potential payments to the scammer.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
EXTORTION, 2017-11260099, 5200 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 12:05 p.m. on November 26, police were dispatched to a possible robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim called the Emergency Communication Center after receiving a threatening phone call from an unknown suspect. The suspect stated that he had kidnapped the victim’s daughter and would harm her unless the victim provided the suspect with money. The arriving officer was able to contact the victim’s daughter and confirm that she was not in danger. The victim had withdrawn money, however, the suspect was unable to provide her with a method for transferring the money as officers had arrived on scene and interrupted the transaction.
Police said the incident followed a pattern seen in similar kidnapping scams that have been reported recently. ACPD offered the following tips for someone who may receive a phone call claiming to be from a kidnapper.
The ACPD wants you to stay safe and be well-informed. To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:
- Calls do not come from the kidnapped victim’s phone
- Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone
- Callers prevent you from calling or locating the “kidnapped” victim
- Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service
If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, contact police immediately.
Another scammer who claims to be serving an arrest warrant for a supposed jury duty mix-up is targeting Arlington residents.
A reader said a man claiming to be a Sgt. Jimmy Jackson with the Arlington County Police Department called her saying there was a warrant out for her arrest due to the mix-up. Police reported a similar scam earlier this year.
Unlike previous scams, the reader said the caller did not ask for money right away, but instead stated that they had to schedule an in-person affidavit. He said the money paid for reserving a time block would be refunded at a future court appearance.
Although the scammer name drops Arlington General District Court clerk Steven Robert Spurr and Chief Judge William T. Newman from Arlington Circuit Court, police said the badge number he cites — No. 3319 — is fake. County courts also always send any information for jury duty by mail or email.
Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said no badge number begins with the digits 33, and that police will never ask for money over the phone. Savage also encouraged any victims of fraud to report it at the county’s online reporting system.
ACPD issued a press release warning of a potential phone scam, after a report of an Arlington resident getting a call requesting a donation on behalf of the department.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department has received one report of a citizen receiving a phone call from an individual requesting donations for various public safety causes on behalf of the police department. The Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that representatives of the police department have never and will never call to solicit funds.
Citizens should be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls which request funds or claim that you owe money. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. Do not provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone. For additional crime prevention tips, please visit our website. For additional information on fundraisers calling on behalf of police and firefighters, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
That’s what reportedly happened to one woman in Arlington yesterday afternoon.
Except the terror quickly gave way to relief when the woman’s dad called and said he was fine — while she was gathering the ransom payment. Police are now investigating the incident.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
ATTEMPT FRAUD, 161006026, 300 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 2:58 p.m. on October 6, police were dispatched to the report of attempted fraud and telephone threats. The female victim received a phone call at approximately 12:48 p.m. from an unknown caller stating he had kidnapped and would kill her father unless she provided him with money. While attempting to retrieve funds, the victim’s father called her place of employment advising that he was not in danger. The victim then ended the call and contacted police. The investigation is ongoing.
“So many people already got in trouble,” Shamim Naseer, who received one of these calls, told ARLnow.com. “One of my friends said he paid them $6,000.”
Naseer said that at least four people she knows, including her son, got a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent. One of her friends, Naseer said, got a call six months ago. The caller in each case told them to add money to gift cards within 10 to 20 minutes or else they would “get in trouble.”
“Some people just don’t know what to do,” said Naseer, who runs an in-home child day care service called Sunshine Day Care in Arlington. The scam may seem obvious to long-time American citizens, but is less so to “recent immigrants who are still figuring out how the tax system operates in this country,” said Sara Barker, a daycare client of Naseer’s.
An identical scam robbed a South Florida woman of $6,000 earlier this month, and a March press release from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said that thousands of people were victims of similar scams.
When Naseer got her call Wednesday, she knew not to believe the scam artist because customers from her sons’ Halal grocery store on Lee Highway warned her after receiving calls of their own, she said. She kept him on the phone so she could report details of their call to the police and the IRS.
After giving her a fake name, phone number and IRS ID number, the man asked Naseer if she had a lawyer. “Tell me what I did wrong first and then I’ll tell you if I have a lawyer,” Naseer said she told the caller. He said that Naseer had unpaid debt and needed to go to the bank to withdraw “cash money.”
“If I hadn’t heard about these scams before then I would have believed him,” Naseer’s daughter Amania, who was with her mother when the call came, told ARLnow.com. “He was so professional and very thorough.”
The caller wanted Naseer to go to Home Depot after she withdrew the $3,000 and add the money to gift cards. “He said, ‘put the phone on speaker so I know you’re taking out the money,'” Naseer said.
“I said, ‘there’s no point in talking to him anymore because I’m not going to do this,'” Naseer said. After she hung up, the caller called back twice. Naseer reported the call to the IRS, who said they received six similar calls.
Amania Naseer said that she was scared because the caller knew her family’s address. The caller also told them he would come to their house after Naseer paid to complete the “paperwork.”
The scam artist who called Naseer’s son said he was from his electric company, and that he would turn off power in their store unless they paid their supposed “bill” in 10 minutes. Naseer did not know if the same caller targeted her son, but she said he gave him the same set of instructions.
One of the victims Naseer knows is a government employee, according to Naseer. “He told me, ‘I’m working for the government too, so I’m hoping my money comes back,'” Naseer said.
The press release advised victims of these scams to report them to the Treasury Department at 800-366-4484 , or to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and add “IRS Phone Scam” to the online form’s comments.
Flickr photo by Marie Coleman