Recently the Knoxville Tennessee Police Department 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 there is a warrant for his arrest, but that if they immediately pay a fine by a gift card or Zelle the warrant will be dismissed While this warning was from the Knoxville Police, this scam has been widely reported around the country.
This 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 make the call 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 or Zelle. Anytime you are asked to pay for anything through a gift card, you can be confident that it is a scam. Gift cards are a favorite method of payments for scammers because it can be done anonymously. Zelle should only be used to send small amounts of money to people you know well and should never be used for business transactions. Banks are refusing to refund money to people who have been scammed using their Zelle accounts.
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.
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