Impostor scams have long been among the most lucrative for scammers.  While there are many variations of this scam, the most common variations have involved scammers calling their intended victims on the telephone posing as some governmental agency such as the IRS, the Social Security Administration or your local police department  The scammer then, under a wide variety of pretenses, demands an immediate payment by gift cards, credit card or wired funds. Being asked to pay by gift cards is a definite indication that the call is a scam since no governmental agency requests or accepts payments by gift cards.   Alternatively, the scammer demands the victim supply the phony governmental agent with personal information such as your Social Security number which will then be used for identity theft purposes.

Recently scammers posing as San Bernadino County California Deputy Sheriffs scammed people out of money by telling them that there were outstanding warrants for their arrest, but that if they paid over the phone through Nike gift cards, the warrants would be quashed.  The victims believed that the callers were really law enforcement officials because the victims’ Caller ID indicated the call was coming from the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s station.


As I have often reminded you, through the simple technique of “spoofing” it is very easy for a scammer to manipulate your Caller ID to make a call coming to you appear legitimate when it is not.  Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Never provide personal information to anyone who calls you unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate.  In the case of this kind of impostor scam, the intended scam victim did the right thing in terminating the call and calling the real police department.

A telltale sign that this is a scam is the fact that no law enforcement agency (along with other governmental agencies, such as the IRS) accepts payments by gift cards.  In addition, law enforcement agencies do not accept payments for warrants and do not collect debts of other governmental agencies.

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