Scammers tend to use a few tried-and-true tactics when it comes to trying to pry money out of people’s hands. One of the longest-running and most common scam varieties is impersonating law enforcement officers to scare people into paying up for fear of facing legal repercussions.
One such scam is making the rounds now. Here’s what you need to know about this new scam, and the ways that scammers use masquerading as law enforcement to scare you into paying bogus fines.
The new scam is mainly done over the phone and has the con artists behind it using randomized phone number programs to reach as many numbers as possible. Once someone picks up the phone, the con artists try to convince the person on the line that they’re actually local police calling about an arrest warrant.
These scammers will use tough-sounding language and will make absurd demands of the person on the line. Typically, the endgame of these scam calls is to convince the person on the line to send money to pay for fines or else they’ll “face jail time”. Of course, this isn’t true: you’re talking to a scammer with about as much authority as a mall security officer. However, the scare tactic works, and thousands of people fork over the money every year.
The best way to defend yourself is to know how to identify the scam before you get roped into the con artists’ illusionary world. First things first, remember that the police won’t call you on the phone. If a police officer needs to get in touch with you, they’ll pay you a visit directly to your front door.
Likewise, if the local county court needs to get in touch with you about a fine you owe, you’re going to receive that request in the mail. It’s extremely unusual for a court to reach out to you via a phone call to attempt to collect money.
Another major red flag in any scam attempt is someone who attempts to solicit money from you over the phone. Often, this will be in the form of asking that you send pre-paid gift card codes to them directly over the phone. The reason for this is that the gift cards are untraceable and can’t be reversed, unlike cash. So, if someone calls you on the phone claiming to be the police and demanding money, you can safely tell them to get lost and hang up on them!