New scam uses law enforcement to fool penniless people, researchers warn.
MOGADORE, Ohio (WJW) – Mogadore police are warning residents of a new scam in which perpetrators are actually using law enforcement to help trick people into giving them money.
According to Officer Johnnie Slayton, this is how it works.
Someone calls, texts, e-mails, mails or sends a notice through a delivery service “notifying” the person that an arrest warrant has been issued and that they will go to jail if they do not pay an indeterminate amount of money.
“A lot of them say they owe a bill and now there is a warrant for their arrest,” Slayton said.
The scammer then calls the police and requests a wellness check on that victim, so that when officers arrive at the home, they convince the resident that the court order is real.
“They will call pretending they are family members who want a wellness check on their family, saying they haven’t heard from them in some time, so officers are being sent home,” Slayton said.
Scammers tell victims that the order will be dismissed if they pay them money.
It’s a despicable crime, says Slayton, because they’re targeting the elderly and the most vulnerable, including a recently 80-year-old woman.
“The scammer posed as a relative and said, ‘I need a welfare check,'” Slayton said, “but the police were able to talk to her and she didn’t lose any money, but too often they go backwards.”
Mogadore police posted a warning about the scam on Facebook and want all residents to remember that arrest warrants are generally not issued for overdue bills. They said the police would never call anyone and demand money to dismiss an actual court order.
“This is not how we do business,” Slayton said.
But his department and others actively go after scammers, especially those who rob the most vulnerable and drive away real emergency officers.
“When things like this happen, it erodes trust between the public and the police department,” Slayton said.
If someone suspects that they have been a victim of the scam, they should call their local police department and file a report.
The public is also asked to inform their friends and family (especially the elderly or homebound) that they should call their local police department before paying someone.
Slayton says that no credible agency or company only accepts gift cards as payment.
People should look up the number themselves and never use the number that was included in the correspondence they received from the scammer.