Crime
4:02 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Scam Artists Posing As Law Enforcement Officers For Your Money

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to beware of a scam that involves people posing as police officers.

Con artists posing as police officers over the phone are threatening arrests and jail time for unpaid loans or other debt.
Credit By Chris Campbell via flickr

Last month, an elderly woman received a phone call from a man posing as a deputy from the sheriff’s department. The scam artist told the woman she owed money on a loan and a warrant had been issued for her arrest. She was then instructed to buy a prepaid Visa card and provide the pin of the card to the caller. Police say the victim paid more than $500 and was also told to pay an additional amount to settle the case.

Colonel Randy Powers, with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, says anyone could be a target.

“They have a system they call spoofing, and what that allows them to do is they are able to put a number in on the telephone, which makes it look like it is coming from a number other than what it is and in this case it was one of our office numbers,” says Powers.

He says, “They also had apparently gotten an officer’s name at that number and used it,” says Powers.

The sheriff’s office also received a few calls from residents reporting similar cases, but the victims were successful in recognizing the scam before any money was lost. Police say the caller is often described as having a foreign accent. Powers says the sheriff’s department does not go out to collect money on civil cases.

“If you get something like this, call the number or officer back because it actually was one of our numbers and we will tell them right away what the situation is, or if there is any question about it,” says Powers.

Powers says another protective measure is, “If they Google the number that was given to them, a lot of times they can see that that these type of numbers are being used in the form of a scam, and that would be a second alert.”

Victims can also report the scam to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

Last year, the state received more than 3,000 complaints about telemarketing fraud scams like this one. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that fraudulent telemarketers take as much as $40 billion a year from unsuspecting U.S. consumers.