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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.
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
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A prospective Arlington renter nearly fell victim to a scam posted on real estate website Zillow last week, according to one Clarendon rental broker.
Matthew Leighton, a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty, said he received a phone call from a renter inquiring about a Zillow listing for a a $950-per-month, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Station Square building at 1201 N. Garfield Street. The supposed “owner” of the condominium told the hopeful renter that she had moved to England and needed the deposit wired to her.
“Two bedrooms could easily get $3,000 per month at Station Square,” Leighton told ARLnow.com. “I was pessimistic so I asked the renter to send me the email correspondence (the Zillow ad is long gone). The scammer’s emails are filled with grammatical errors and outlines the intricate steps to lease the condo. You could go through almost every paragraph and pick apart the details which poke huge loopholes in this person’s story. Yet people are still responding to these ads.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that being asked to wire money is the No. 1 sign that a rental scam is afoot. In the case of this scam, the victim was told to wire the deposit, after which a third-party shipping company would send them the key to view the apartment.
Leighton said the renter found him through a listing for another condo in the Station Square Complex and he “genuinely believed” he had gotten a good deal. The lister, however, didn’t provide a unit number, a full name or a phone number.
“Rental scams are out there and it can be difficult to decipher them from real listings,” Leighton said. “When in doubt, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Leighton says rental scams are relatively rare on Zillow, which “is usually pretty good about deleting spam and scam listings.” More prevalent are rental scams on Craigslist, which have been the subject of coverage in national outlets like the Huffington Post.
Another potential Craigslist scam was just called out on the Washington, D.C. sub-Reddit. The alleged scam is an apartment listing that asks prospective tenants to undergo an online credit check — a process that would saddle the victim with monthly fees.
The FTC says that scams can come in the form of both fake ads or real ads where the contact info has been hacked and changed. Red flags include the lister being out of the country and requesting a third-party handle some details or money or asking for a fee or deposit before any documents have been signed. Scammers can be reported to the police or the FTC.
Photos via Google Maps (middle) and courtesy Matthew Leighton (top and bottom)
Scam artists have been calling Arlington residents, claiming to be utility bill collectors, according to police. They often become aggressive on the phone and demand payment for outstanding bills. The scammers have also threatened to cut off service altogether if immediate payment is not provided over the phone. They ask the victim to set up a pre-paid debit card so funds can be loaded onto it and accessed over the phone.
In the past, many utility scams police came across involved minority or elderly residents. This one, however, appears to target small businesses. Since the beginning of the year, police have investigated 21 instances of this scam in Arlington, nine of which occurred just in the past month.
The scammers have been requesting various amounts of money ranging from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand, police say. Although most of the victims refused to pay and contacted police, a few did hand over money.
Police remind residents never to provide personal information to people over the phone, including bank account numbers, credit card info and social security numbers. If you receive a call from someone claiming to work for a utility or another business, attempt to verify the individual’s identity by calling the service number on your utility bill or on the company’s website. Do not attempt to call phone numbers a caller may offer, because the number will often ring to another scam artist.
Do not rely on your caller I.D. to verify suspicious calls, because scammers can alter phone numbers to appear like they belong to a utility company. Legitimate utility companies will not attempt to pressure customers into making a snap decision or an immediate payment.
If you receive a call you believe is a scam, hang up and call the Arlington County Police non-emergency number at 703-228-2222 to file a police report.
The Arlington County Police Department is warning of a scam that’s targeting local residents.
Fraudsters are calling Arlington residents, claiming to be representatives of a utility company, and demanding money for supposed unpaid bills. From a police press release:
Since the beginning of March, over two dozen Arlington County residents have become victims of a utility scam. Victims in these cases have received phone calls from individuals posing as utility company employees. The caller states that the victim has failed to pay utility bills and has an outstanding balance, threatening to shut off the utility services if a payment is not made immediately. Arlington County cases alone have resulted in losses ranging from $200-$1,000.
If you receive a call of this nature, make sure to verify that it is actually your utility company. Residents can do this by directly calling the number on your latest bill or by finding the number on the utility company’s main website. Never use the 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… or call the non emergency police line at 703.558.2222.
A tipster says a man on a scooter has been attempting to scam Arlington residents.
The woman, who didn’t want her named used for this article, said the man (pictured, above) pulls off to the side of the road, pretends to be out of gas, and asks passersby for money. She said she informed police about the possible scammer, but wanted other local residents to be aware of him as well.
On Saturday, a friend told me that she saw a man on a scooter who was panicked and asking for gas money. This was in Rosslyn near Ft. Myer. She said he seemed legit, was middle-aged, and refused to use her phone when she offered. She ended up giving him cash. Half an hour ago, I was walking on Highland St. in Lyon Village and saw a man on a scooter pull up on the sidewalk, putz around with the mechanical parts (it sounded like it was sputtering), and then ask the next young woman who walked by for cash because he was out of gas. It appeared to be the same man. He is about 5’10”, white, reddish-blonde hair, middle-aged, and was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants, and white Adidas shoes. He was on a silver scooter. Just wanted to give a heads up… that this guy is a scammer (especially because he appears to be approaching young women in particular). Don’t fall for it.
The scam involves offering customers the opportunity to set up an account to pay utility bills via a federal program. According to the Better Business Bureau, there is no such federal program in existence to pay household bills.
Victims have reportedly been contacted in person as well as by phone, text and social media. They were asked to register their Social Security numbers and banking information in order set up an account to make payments. The account numbers the victims were then given for bill paying turned out to be fake.
So far, Dominion has notified around 60 customers that their payments could not be processed because the account information they gave was invalid thanks to the scam.
Anyone who is contacted about a federal government bill paying program should not give any personal information due to the risk of identity theft. Potential scam victims are encouraged to contact the Better Business Bureau and local police. Customers should ask for an official Dominion ID from anyone who may come to their residence and claim to be from the company.
The Better Business Bureau provides the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Beware of giving personal information over the phone. Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident about the person with whom you are speaking.
- Use your own personal information. Always pay your bills with your own personal information; never pay your bills with information that is not your own.
- Do your research. If you receive a call claiming to be from your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
- Beware of the door-to-door sales approach. Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
- Be proactive. If you have already provided information to someone claiming to offer this service, contact your bank immediately. Also contact the three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and have a notation made on your account so it doesn’t impact your credit rating.
- Inform others. Share this information with friends and family so they do not become victims. Elderly victims are common in this type of scam, but anyone who pays a utility bill is a potential target.