This scam and others like it that urge potential victims to give out pre-paid debit card or credit card numbers over the phone or email are unfortunately common. However, officers are again getting reports that this scam, threatening people with arrest, is once again targeting Twin Falls and Magic Valley residents. Education is the best prevention to losing your hard earned cash to a con.
The Twin Falls Police Department is alerting citizens to a new twist on an old scam. This time, scammers are using fear and the threat of arrest to persuade victims to buying pre-paid debit cards and giving the card numbers to the scammers over the phone.
Twin Falls Police recently took a report yesterday of the same telephone scam. One victim was taken for a sum of $2,000.
The Scam: Victims report receiving a call, or being left a voice mail message, from a male caller claiming to be a local law enforcement officer. Most often the name that is given is a legitimate officer’s name, which can be found by doing an internet search. The scammer may identify themselves as a detective, deputy, or from the “Warrant Division” or “Records Division”.
The caller says there's a warrant for the citizen's arrest for missing a court date. Past schemes have threatened the potential victim saying they were about to be arrested for failure to pay a traffic ticket or other violations. The caller threatens the victim with immediate arrest if they don’t go purchase a pre-paid cash card then give the card's serial and security number to them over the phone. The caller will either stay on the phone with the victim while the card is purchased or provided a call back number.
The call back phone number appears to be from Idaho but may in fact be coming from a Voice over Internet Protocol. Officers have called the numbers back and found the location cannot be determined.
The Twin Falls Police Department advise anyone receiving such a call to hang up and immediately call local law enforcement.
- Legitimate law enforcement agencies would not call individuals and demand money under any circumstances.
- Never give a credit, debit or pre-paid cash card number over the phone. Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to send money.
- Unlike a credit card, pre-paid debit cards are untraceable and charges cannot be reversed. When the serial number of the card is given to the scammer, the victim is out the money.
- If you believe you may have a legitimate warrant for your arrest or unpaid traffic fine, in the Magic Valley, call your local law enforcement agency phone number so you know you're talking to a legitimate source.
- Education is the best prevention for scams. The FBI has a web site continuously updated on the latest phone, mail and Internet scams. http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety
Variations of this scam are being reported around the country, using a variety of reasons, from a traffic ticket to missing jury duty, to threaten victims with arrest if they don’t purchase a pre-paid debit card and give the scammer the number. Don’t be the next victim, hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency.