Wake law enforcement agencies searching for 'phone cop' scammers

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comMarch 5, 2014 

  • Protect against phone fraud

    • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.

    • Always take your time making a decision; legitimate groups won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.

    • Always ask for and wait until you receive written materials about any offer or charity.

    • Be aware that any personal or financial information you provide may be sold to other groups.

    • If a caller claims to be a police officer, have the caller identify the specific agency. Ask for the name of the caller’s supervisor and then confirm that information by contacting the agency or simply calling 911.

    • If you receive a telephone call that makes you uncomfortable, immediately hang up. Report the incident to the appropriate police agency or the state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or at www.ncdoj.gov.

    Source: Wake County Sheriff’s Office

Law enforcement agencies in Wake County say they are searching for con artists who are posing as, well, them.

The telephone scammers demand money from residents and threaten them with arrest if they cannot pay. The con is a “scam that victimizes the police agencies as well as targeted citizens,” Capt. James Stevens, a spokesman with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, stated in a press release.

Police noticed that the scam followed a pattern:

The victim will receive a telephone call from a number that may appear on their caller identification as “911,” “Cary PD,” “Raleigh PD,” “Warrants” or some other false identification, Stevens said.

The person making the call will identify himself or herself, usually with a rank and name, such as “Lieutenant Harris with the Warrant Squad.”

The bogus officer informs the victim of an outstanding warrant because the victim failed to appear in court, failed to appear for jury duty, was photographed running a red light or violated another law, Stevens said.

The caller then says the victim can avoid arrest by going to a nearby retail outlet such as Walmart or Walgreens and purchasing a money order for a specific amount, usually several hundred dollars.

The scam artist closes the deal by instructing the victim to call back after purchasing the money order to give its number and other information so law enforcement can process “the warrant” and the victim can avoid arrest.

“Legitimate 911 communications centers and actual law enforcement officials do not request funds in order to avoid arrest,” Stevens said.

He reminded residents that honest organizations aren’t likely to request personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts over the phone.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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