Evansville Police Warn of Increase in Ransom Phone Scams in the Area
The Evansville Police Department have posted a warning about an increase in phone scams in the Tri-State. Many of these they're calling "ransom scams" in which the caller will impersonate a Law Enforcement Officer and will tell you that you owe money for some kind of violation.
Here's what EPD says about the scam:
The Evansville Police Department has recently seen an increase in phone scams in the tri-state area. Many of these are what are generally called “ransom” scams. The caller impersonates a person or agency, either claiming to be a Law Enforcement Officer or representative of another government agency. They will tell you that you have to pay money to avoid being arrested for a warrant that was put out on you for some sort of violation. Usually the fabricated violation or crime is something like missing jury duty, unpaid tickets, or if the victim was ever actually convicted of a crime, they might allege that some offender registration or parole/probation violation occurred and you have to pay up or get arrested. Payment is demanded in the form of providing the caller with the activation numbers off prepaid gift cards you are directed to buy and give over the phone. A recent development we have seen is the scammer will actually direct you to drive to the Sheriff’s Department or Police Department and wait outside for them to come out and collect payment from you. You wait and they eventually callback and claim to be busy so just give the card info to them on the phone, etc.
These scammers often do enough open source research to discover and use the names of actual local law enforcement officials as well as spoof caller ID and display the actual phone number of a local law enforcement agency on your phone.
DO NOT FALL FOR THESE SCAMS. No law enforcement officer will ever request direct payment to satisfy a warrant, fine, or unpaid restitution, let alone over the phone and by gift cards or Bitcoin. If you receive a scam call JUST HANG-UP. As always, report any scam calls to Evansville Police, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, or the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction for your home address.
The common element of all these scams is this: Pay up over the phone or suffer some consequence, arrest, lawsuit, etc.
It's important to make others aware of these scams as too often they take advantage of well meaning, trusting individuals. Remember don't give your financial information out over the phone.
According to the FTC there's many things you can do to protect yourself from falling victim to a scam. They suggest making sure you can "spot imposters" as typically scammers will try to portray a trustworthy individual such as a law enforcement officer. They also suggest doing an online search for what you experienced. In this case you'd want to search for "law enforcement officer calling to pay up a warrant to avoid jail" There you can see if others have reported this. Chances are you'll see many people online reporting about this exact scam. The FTC has a great list of 10 things you can do to help make sure you don't fall victim to a scam. You can check them out here.