Phone fraudsters are using the threat of arrest warrants to pressure people into forking over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.
In recent weeks, Aliso Viejo’s Crime Prevention Unit has received complaints of phone scams in which a caller impersonates a local police officer. The callers, manipulating caller ID to make the number appear to come from a law enforcement agency, tell potential victims they have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid debt, missed jury duty or some minor infraction and that a fine is due. The callers convince people to make the payments by wiring it or buying a prepaid credit card and registering it online.
“Remember that law enforcement agencies will never demand payment over the phone … warrant payments are always handled through the courts,” said Crime Prevention Specialist Julia Smith. “If this happens to you, hang up and call the Sheriff’s Department at 949-770-6011 and file a report.”
Another con is the “Federal Government Grant” scam where the “federal government” states they are giving you thousands of dollars for paying your taxes on time and having no criminal record. The fraudster then instructs potential victims to pay an application fee before they send them the grant.
“No, the federal government does not want to give you a free, no-strings-attached grant,” Julia said. “It’s a scam. The federal government will not call and offer you a grant if you have not applied for one and you would not be charged a fee for a grant.”
In this instance too, hang up, don’t call them back and report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
For more information about scams, visit ocsd.org/about/info/safe/scams.