Recently the Virginia State Police issued a warning about an increase in phone scams in which the caller poses as a law enforcement officer who tells the targeted victim of the scam that his or her identity has been stolen and used by someone who has committed a crime using their name and that there is an arrest warrant for the targeted scam victim. The scammer then goes on to tell the targeted victim that the criminal charges will be dropped if the targeted victim makes a payment either through wiring funds or by sending gift card information. While this warning was from the Virginia State Police, this scam has been widely reported around the country.
While the premise of the script used by scammers sounds ridiculous, including the fact that if the officer knew that the crimes were committed by someone using someone else’s name, how could the victim of identity theft be legally responsible, the scam may fool some people because the Caller ID of the targeted victim indicates that the call has come from the police. Regular readers of Scamicide know that Caller ID can easily be manipulated by a technique called “spoofing” to appear to come from whatever number the scammer desires.
Remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” No law enforcement agency calls people to clear outstanding warrants by phone and no law enforcement agency would ever under any circumstances request a payment by way of a gift card. Anytime you are asked to pay for anything through a gift card, you can be confident that it is a scam. Gift cards and wiring funds are favorite methods of payments for scammers because they can be done anonymously.
Whenever you get a phone call, email or text message you can never be sure who is really contacting you and so if you are ever asked in any communication for a payment or personal information, you should be skeptical and never provide the information or make a payment until you have absolutely and independently confirmed that the communication is legitimate.
If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”