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Police impersonation phone scam currently circulating

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of law enforcement impersonation phone call scams.

These scams can take many forms, but generally speaking, fraudulent callers pose as law enforcement officers and threaten to arrest the victim after informing them that they have unpaid fines. Scammers have also been known to claim you need to provide bond money for a loved one who has been arrested, and if the victim refuses, scammers sometimes extort the victim with physical or financial harm, or release sensitive data if money is not sent. The scammers may ask the victim to retrieve money from their bank account or obtain a prepaid credit card or gift card from a local store and provide them with the credit card number. Scammers may spoof or fake their phone numbers, so the call appears to be coming from a legitimate police department, like the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Oftentimes, scammers are not from the area and are difficult to identify because they use fake phone numbers that are untraceable and change frequently.

As a reminder, any legitimate law enforcement officer will not demand cash or gift cards from you in person or over the phone.

Other common scams to avoid include:

  • A stranger sends you a check and asks you to cash it while keeping some money. This scam is a different variation of the Craig’s List transaction where the buyer/sender “accidentally” overpays and asks you to cash the fraudulent check and send them the amount of the overpayment. Banks will most likely cash the check and not realize the check is forged until several days later. You are then financially responsible for the amount of the bad check.
  • A person says they have found a virus on your computer. They ask for remote access to the computer and then hold the computer hostage until a ransom is paid.
  • A person contacts you over the phone and claims to be your relative who has been arrested or injured in an accident. They ask you to provide them with a prepaid credit card number for bond money or medical expenses.
  • A person claims that your account has been hacked and that your social security number is being placed on hold.

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and organized in their approach. They are technologically savvy and often target young persons and the elderly. To protect yourself from falling victim to scams:

Be wary of answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize.

Never give out your personal information, including your social security number, credit card number and banking information.

Do not send money to anybody that you do not personally know and trust, including those claiming to be law enforcement officers.

If in doubt, hang up the phone and contact the person they are claiming to be. Please share this information with your close friends and family members.

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