Claiming a family member has been kidnapped and demanding a ransom. Threatening you with arrest if a fine is not paid for supposedly missing jury duty.
Those are just two of the most common scams perpetrated on local residents, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
ACPD detailed some of the scams they frequently respond to in a new press release. The victims are often older, with one of the scams specifically targeting grandparents, but anyone could be targeted.
The bottom line from police: “be cautious of unsolicited calls and emails, especially if the individual requests payment in the form of gift cards, cash or cash apps.”
The full ACPD press release detailing some common scams is below.
In support of the department’s key initiative of crime prevention and control, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is sharing information on common scams and tips for how to spot, avoid and report them. Although many scams can appear convincing, remember to be cautious of unsolicited calls and emails, especially if the individual requests payment in the form of gift cards, cash or cash apps.
Please note, the information provided in this press release is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible scams currently circulating. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud are encouraged to visit our financial crimes information webpage.
Scam #1: The Virtual Kidnapping Ransom Scam
Scammers will call potential victims stating their family member is being held captive and threaten to continue holding them hostage unless they receive payment, typically through a cash app. The scammers will provide the victim with specific instructions to ensure the safe return of the family member and order the individual to stay on the line until money is received. This particular scam creates a sense of urgency and panic as the scammers also state they will harm the family member if the money is not sent immediately. ACPD encourages the public to hang up and call 911 immediately if faced with this scam.
Scam #2: The Grandparent Scam
Scammers will target elderly victims by calling and stating their grandchild has been arrested for driving under the influence or other serious crime. The nature of the situation makes the grandchild ‘unavailable’ to confirm their identity by phone and the scammer will ask the victim to send money for attorney fees or bail. In some cases, the scammers impersonate the grandchild while reporting to be in a crisis situation. This particular scam preys on the fears of grandparents to get them to act quickly. If you receive a call of this nature, hang up and call 911 immediately. ACPD advises a quick way to know if this call is a scam is if the caller asks the victim not to call the grandchild’s parents to confirm they have been arrested.
Scam #3: The Jury Duty Scam
Scammers will pose as law enforcement and contact victims accusing them of failing to appear for jury duty and stating a warrant for their arrest will be issued unless a fine is paid. Payment is often requested in the form of gift cards and the scammer will ask the victim to provide the gift card numbers over the phone. Scammers may also instruct the victim to send the gift cards to a police department as an added appearance of legitimacy. As a reminder, ACPD and the Sheriff’s Office will never call to solicit funds or collect fines over the phone. Additionally, juror summonses are sent through the mail and communication through other mediums should be considered suspicious.
More on the Weird Chime Sound — “Janae Bixby first heard the sound near Pentagon City, where I-395 and Glebe Road intersect, as she picked up her kid from daycare on Monday evening around 5. She described it as ‘some sort of clock or doorbell chime that you would hear — very digital.’ She assumed the noise was coming from the building and started heading home. But then, in her car ride home to the southern edge of the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, she kept hearing it, again and again.” [DCist]
Parents Group Wants Smaller Class Sizes — “A group of parents in Arlington, Virginia, is urging the county’s board to allot additional funding to its school system in the next fiscal year’s budget. The group Arlington Parents for Education said in a letter to the board this week that more money should be provided so that class sizes can be smaller, teacher pay can be competitive with surrounding school districts and student mental health and learning loss can be addressed.” [WTOP]
TR Bridge Work Could Wrap Up in June — “A section of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that was closed abruptly for emergency repairs two months ago is likely to reopen to traffic in June, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. Crews began work on the 58-year-old bridge after an early-February inspection found steel support beams had continued to deteriorate, prompting the closure of three middle lanes and restrictions on heavyweight vehicles.” [Washington Post]
Operator Shortage Behind Bus Delays — From MetroHero: “For most of the morning, only one #WMATA 16Y bus has been in service where at least 5 are supposed to be running right… Previously-unannounced operator shortage was the cause of poor 16Y service this morning.” [Twitter]
School Bus Crash Yesterday Afternoon — “A crash involving several vehicles including a school bus has snarled southbound traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, near Campbell Elementary… No injuries have been reported and one lane of traffic is squeezing by the crash scene. This is the same stretch of road where a group of residents recently called for safety improvements. [Twitter]
Video: Adorable Baby Squirrel — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’ve definitely got the cutest thing on the internet today! This baby squirrel came to us underweight and hungry, so after a snack she was transferred to a local wildlife rehabber who will care for her until she can be released back into the wild!” [Twitter]
Arlington GOP Ramps Up Outreach — “They are still on the lookout for local candidates, but the Arlington County Republican Committee also is working to connect with prospective supporters. ‘There are thousands of Republican voters who turn out on Election Day but who are otherwise unengaged with the Arlington GOP,’ party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said. ‘We can change that.'” [Sun Gazette]
FBI Warns of Moving Scam — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning the public about increasingly prevalent moving fraud schemes and providing information about how to avoid being victimized by them. A typical moving fraud scheme begins when a customer is enticed into entering into a contract with a moving company to transport their household goods by offers of extremely low-cost estimates from a sales representative or broker.” [FBI]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]
Power Payment Scam — “Arlington County is warning the public about a phone scam of unsolicited calls claiming to be representatives of Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy will not call you to pressure you to pay. If you have issues, contact the customer service line (1-866-366-4357) immediately.” [Twitter]
Youngkin Voters Cite Schools — From WAMU’s Rachel Kurzius: “I cannot stress enough how much the issue of education has motivated Youngkin supporters. It comes up in every convo. Charmaine and Jack Yoest of Arlington say that ‘what’s going on in our schools today’ cuts across party lines and that helps explain Youngkin’s success tonight… One thing I keep hearing is that parents didn’t like what they overheard on Zoom classes.” [Twitter]
Leadership Center Picks Leader — “Lisa Fikes, who has served as head of Volunteer Arlington for five years and in recent months has served as interim CEO of the Leadership Center for Excellence, has been tapped for that post in a permanent capacity.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Wednesday — Today there will be areas of frost before 10 a.m. Otherwise it will be sunny, with a high near 52. Sunrise at 7:37 a.m. and sunset at 6:05 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high near 53.
County Getting Paid for Glass Recycling — “Arlington’s glass recycling drop-off program continues to shatter expectations–surpassing 5 million pounds (2,500 tons) collected since its debut in 2019. And the effort is officially paying off. The County now receives $15 per ton for glass collected as the result of a new hauling and commodity contract with a Pennsylvania recycler.” [Arlington County]
VDOT’s Route 1 Proposal Bombs — “As a new vision for Crystal City’s portion of U.S. Route 1 comes into focus, local businesses, neighbors and the area’s dominant landlord are all becoming increasingly concerned… Renderings unveiled in a Virginia Department of Transportation meeting Wednesday night have united the National Landing Business Improvement District, JBG Smith Properties and some neighborhood activists in opposition over fears that the designs are still too car-centric.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]
Police Warn of Ongoing Scams — “The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information on common scams circulating in Arlington County and ways you can spot, avoid, and report them. The public should be particularly cautious of anyone calling, emailing, or interacting with them and requesting payment in the form of gift cards as this is often a red flag for fraud.” [ACPD]
Driver of Stolen Car Escapes — “At approximately 2:15 a.m. on March 3, a patrol officer observed a stolen vehicle traveling on S. Carlin Springs Road. Before a traffic stop could be initiated, the driver accelerated the vehicle and made evasive turns before pulling over and fleeing the scene on foot. A perimeter was established and officers, with aerial support from the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division, conducted a search for the driver with negative results.” [ACPD]
New Race Planned Next Weekend — “Join Arlington For Justice and Black Parents of Arlington for the 1st Run For Her Life (Women’s Only) 5k WALK and YOGA Event… March 13, 2021 at 2 p.m.” [Facebook]
Scammers are sending letters to Arlington residents, fraudulently claiming to be Arlington County authorities and threatening punishment if a debt is not paid over the phone.
The Arlington County Police Department issued a warning about the scam today, showing images of scam letters that appear to come from an official source. The scammers claim to be part of a non-existent “Benefits Suspension Unit” or “Tax Processing Unit,” and threaten to cut off Social Security benefits or seize wages, police say.
Those that receive such letters are encouraged to report them to police via an online form.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about scam mailings that threaten individuals with seizure of their wages and Social Security benefits to satisfy alleged non-payment of taxes. Recipients are instructed to call a toll-free number by a set date or further enforcement action will be taken against them.
The mailings use a fraudulent government seal and are sent from the ‘Benefits Suspension Unit, Arlington County, Public Judgement Records’ and/or the ‘Tax Processing Unit, Internal Processing Service, Arlington County, Public Judgement Records.’ This office does not exist.
If you have been a victim or target of a scam in Arlington County, report to police using the online crime report.
Scammers may use various techniques to fool potential victims. Avoid becoming a victim by following these practices:
- Be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls, emails, mailings or in-person solicitations which request funds or claim that you owe money.
- Never use a phone number provided to you from an individual making threats to verify their credibility. Use a verified phone number to contact a government agency if you’re concerned you might owe money.
- Avoid unusual payment methods. No government agency will instruct you to resolve your debt using a payment method such as Bitcoin, money wires, mailed cash or gift cards.
- Keep your information private. Don’t share your personal information with organizations you are unfamiliar with, don’t have ties to and did not initiate contact with.
- Take your time. If you are requested to act quickly or there is a stated emergency, it may be a scam. Scammers create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Governor Extends Business Closures — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will extend Executive Order Fifty-Three for two weeks, through Friday, May 8, 2020. Executive Order Fifty-Three originally signed on March 24, bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Wi-Fi Available in Two Library Parking Lots — “Arlington residents who lack reliable internet service at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can now benefit from two new free County Wi-Fi hotspots. Access to the ArlingtonWireless network is now available at the Central Library and Columbia Pike Library parking lots.” [Arlington County]
Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Extended lane closures will occur this weekend beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 17, on I-66 East between the Dulles Connector Road and Sycamore Street for bridge work and other construction for the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.” [Press Release]
Buses to Toot Horns in Unison — “[Today] at 3 p.m., ART buses will join transit agencies around the country in honking their horns to honor transportation and other essential workers. Thank you to the ART bus drivers and staff, and all essential workers, for your work!” [Twitter]
Police Warn of Coronavirus Scams — “FRAUD ALERT: Be aware of COVID-related scams and know how to protect yourself. ACPD reminds you that the IRS will not call, text, email you or contact you via social media to request money or personal information related to economic impact payments.” [Twitter]
Disastrous Debut for Fairfax Distance Learning — While Arlington Public Schools catches flak for deciding not to teach new material until the fall, Fairfax County public schools have cancelled online classes for the rest of the week after the school system’s distance learning technology suffered a series of major failures. [Fairfax County Public Schools, Washington Post]
Rent Rising in Arlington — “The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,840 and for a two-bedroom apartment was $2,130 in Arlington, based on the latest data from Apartment List. The growth rate of 3.7 percent from 12 months before compares to a national increase of 1.7 percent during the same period.” [InsideNova]
Rolling Thunder Rides Again — “The massive Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally staged in Washington each Memorial Day weekend had its final ride last year, but the roar of engines isn’t going away… The 2020 version of the ride has new organizers, a new sponsor and a new name, but participants and spectators might not notice the changes.” [Washington Post]
Cat Shot With Arrow Adopted — “Cupid is going home! His new mom and dad were SO excited to meet Cupid and make him a part of the family. He was purring and giving them head-butts right away, and we wish him all the best in his new home!” [Facebook, WJLA]
Watch Out for Coronavirus Scams — “As public health concerns continue to grow surrounding the coronavirus, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is urging Virginians to be wary of any coronavirus related scams. Scams could include selling products that purport to prevent the coronavirus, spreading misinformation, or pretending to solicit donations for victims of the disease.” [Press Release]
To combat a new scam, Arlington County Police are making it clear: they’re not going to call and threaten to arrest you unless you pay them with a prepaid debit card.
The department says it has received several reports of residents receiving unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from an Arlington police officer. The caller asserts that the victim has “an outstanding warrant for their arrest” for an unpaid fine and demands payment, threatening to arrest the victim unless a payment is received via — it’s then revealed — prepaid debit cards.
“The Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that agency representatives have never and will never call to solicit funds or collect fines,” police said.
More from an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about a telephone scam that uses the threat of arrest to extort money from potential victims.
Several residents have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls claiming they have an outstanding warrant for their arrest. The caller claims to be a Captain with the Arlington County Police Department and demands immediate payment for an alleged fine. Through threats and intimidation, the caller attempts to convince residents to purchase prepaid debit cards and provide the identification numbers which allows the scammers to obtain the money from the cards.
If you receive a call of this nature with someone claiming to be a member of Arlington County law enforcement, immediately hang up and verify the claim by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703.558.2222.
Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam
The Arlington County Police Department is reminding citizens that agency representatives have never and will never call to solicit funds or collect fines. Reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a scam by following these crime prevention tips:
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.
- Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.
- Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact.
- Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don’t sound right, hang up.
After making a verification call, if you find that you were a target or victim of a scam, please file an online police report or call the Emergency Communications Center at 703.558.2222.
Arlington Man Accused Of Abusing Boy — “A teacher at Anne Beers Elementary School in Southeast Washington has been charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old student between December 2016 and April 2017, according to police and documents filed in court. David Christopher Noble, 46, of Arlington, Va., was arrested Monday and charged in an indictment with several sex abuse counts and with threatening the boy and his family.” [Washington Post]
Big Raise for Arlington Startup — “Enterprise software company Stardog announced Tuesday morning that it had raised $9 million of a Series B round to expand its product offerings as well as its engineering, customer success, sales and marketing teams. The Arlington, Virginia-based maker of an enterprise data unification platform secured the funding in a round led by New York City-based venture capital firm Tenfore Holdings.” [Technically DC]
Scams Still Targeting Local Residents — “ACPD is warning the public about two telephone scams targeting area residents… learn about the outstanding warrant scam and a scam referencing Dominion Energy and ways to protect yourself.” [Twitter]
Generator Work in Courthouse This Weekend — “Generator replacement at Justice Center means no parking/sidewalk access on 14th Street between N Troy and N Courthouse Road. Expect early a.m. noise for crane set-up… This work was rescheduled from last weekend for this coming Saturday, Nov. 2.” [Twitter]
Wardian Wants to Go Full Gump Next Year — Newly-minted MCM50K champ Michael Wardian “has participated in more than 250 marathons and another 150 ultramarathons. His longest distance thus far is a 400K (nearly 250 miles) through the Gobi Desert that was self-navigated and took him four days… Next year, he hopes to run across the continental United States, but don’t compare him to Forrest Gump; he says he’s heard that one a few too many times.” [Arlington Magazine]
Four Percent of Nuptials in Va. Are Same-Sex — “Same-sex couples have made up one of every 26 marriages in Virginia since such unions were legalized in the commonwealth in 2014.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
New Noise Enforcement Tools — “Arlington government officials have added new tools in an effort to address nighttime noise violations from restaurants and bars. The new policy is designed to target ‘the ones who consistently refuse to comply’ in resolving noise complaints, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac told County Board members on Oct. 22.” [InsideNova]
Beyer on Aircraft Noise — “Today, Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) sent a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concerns about its recent announcement to make changes to flight paths at DCA to accommodate Secret Service needs without giving meaningful consideration to community interests.” [Press Release]
Video: Amazon Truck Towed in Crystal City — “Can’t say we didn’t warn you… controversial Advanced Towing removes an @amazon truck from ‘National Landing.'” [Twitter]
Housing Supply Down, Prices Up — “The Arlington County, Virginia, housing market continues to get more expensive, and potential buyers continue to have fewer and fewer houses and condos to consider.” [WTOP]
What Goes Into an Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Burial — “If you live near Arlington, you may be familiar with the sound of cannon fire early in the morning. The Presidential Salute Battery fires cannons for military ceremonies in Washington and is the only unit of its kind in the Army. ” [WAMU]
Nearby: Nats World Series Scam — Per Fairfax County Police: “Our Detectives are investigating an increasing number of scams involving the sale of @Nationals World Series tickets. Please use caution when purchasing tickets from sources other than @MLB authorized dealers.” [Twitter, FCPD]
It’s Columbus Day — Despite the federal holiday, all Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be open today. Barring breaking news, ARLnow will be publishing on a limited schedule today. [Arlington County]
Theft from Casual Adventure — From an Arlington County Police crime report: “At approximately 11:35 a.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered a business at approximately 5:30 p.m. on October 9, selected numerous fleece jackets before fleeing the scene without paying.” [Arlington County]
ACPD Warns of Phone Scam — “Residents have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls from individuals fraudulently claiming to be technicians with Dominion Energy. These individuals accuse the victims of having overdue bills which must immediately be paid, or their power will be disconnected. The caller then provides a fraudulent claim number and phone number where the funds may be paid and often requests payment using a prepaid debit or gift card.” [Arlington County]
Governor Issues Drought Watch — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a statewide drought watch advisory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event.” [Press Release, Capital Weather Gang]
Circus Returns to Rosslyn — Updated at 3:45 p.m. — Conservative provocateurs Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are holding yet another press conference this week outside Burkman’s Rosslyn townhouse. The duo say they will be joined by a “longtime drug dealer” for prominent Democratic members of Congress. [Twitter]
Nearby: Four Mile Run Trail in Alexandria to Reopen Soon — “A bridge spanning the last gap on the Alexandria side of the Four Mile Run Trail has been put into place, but the trail remains impassable for pedestrians.” [ALXnow]