Be Aware: scammers pretend to be local law enforcement requesting thousands and threatening arrests

St. Clair Co. law enforcement warning of phone scam
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:00 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department & Jacksonville Police are warning residents about scammers calling pretending to be an officer and demanding money.

Law enforcement says these thieves use some departments’ actual numbers and real officers’ names to get their victims. They say you must be vigilant.

Chief Marcus Wood shared an example of how scammers are targeting residents.

“You signed up for jury duty or some type of federal program, and you didn’t pay your fine to do it,” said Wood. “And now you’re in default. You’ve got to wire us a thousand dollars, or we’re going to send these folks to come after you.”

He says scripts like these are just one-way scammers are getting unsuspected callers for their next payday.

“Spoof is what they call it,” said Wood. “Spoof those numbers of real law enforcement agencies. Then they’ll use a name of a real law enforcement person. I’ve had people use my name and say hey. And for people, it doesn’t even have to be elderly people. But for people, they will think the chief is coming to get me.”

Chief Wood says if they were coming, they wouldn’t call you about it. CrimeStoppers of Metro Alabama Program Coordinator Ken Atkinson agrees. He spent decades in law enforcement and says calls like that from police departments don’t happen.

“In that 32 years, I can’t recall a single incident where we ever called anyone to tell them they had a warrant,” says Atkinson. “Or requested money over the phone. That should be a red flag immediately if you get a call from someone saying they’re with the police department requesting money.”

Atkinson says these callers can come up with scary situations that could include your loved ones.

“If you have anyone, friend, family that you get a call that supposedly is from them or something concerning them, then obviously listen to the phone call,” adds Atkinson. “Get the details, but immediately I would hang up and call this person who they say they are.”

Studies show the average person receives more than three scam calls and about two text messages daily. This is why law enforcement says everyone should be on high alert when it comes to scammers because if you do send money, more than likely, there’s no way to get it back.

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