ARLINGTON, Va. – Scammers are constantly reinventing ways to perpetrate schemes designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information on common scams circulating in Arlington County and ways you can spot, avoid, and report them. The public should be particularly cautious of anyone calling, emailing, or interacting with them and requesting payment in the form of gift cards as this is often a red flag for fraud.
Scam #1: Outstanding Warrant Scams
Scammers use the threat of arrest or legal action to extort money from potential victims during unsolicited phone calls where they claim the victim has an outstanding warrant. The caller alleges to be either a law enforcement officer who demands immediate payment to remedy the situation or an attorney who demands funds to represent the victim. Through threats and intimidation, the caller attempts to convince the victim to wire transfer payment or purchase prepaid debit or gift cards. The caller then instructs the victim to provide the identification numbers on the debit or gift cards which allows the scammers to obtain the money without being in physical possession of the cards.
Scam #2: Business Email Scams
Scammers attempt to trick employees into transferring large sums of money to them by impersonating their boss or other company leadership in spoofed emails. In this scam, the perpetrators first study their intended victims using social media, organizational websites, and/or news reports. When contacting the victim, they often reference other employees’ names, job titles, email addresses, and telephone numbers to appear legitimate. They then request the victim to send them money, usually through the form of prepaid gift cards, for certain work-related things, such as surprising a coworker.
Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam
Reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a scam by following these crime prevention tips:
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, text messages and emails.
- Be cautious of mimicked e-mail addresses.
- Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.
- Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact with.
- Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don’t sound right, hang up.
- Take your time. If the caller puts you in fear, requests you to act quickly or states there is an emergency, it’s likely a scam. Scammers create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively and without thinking.
- The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office will never call to solicit funds or collect fines over the phone.
Remain fiscally secure by following these practices:
- Track and review your bank and credit card statements for irregular activity.
- Avoid unusual payment methods. No government agency or legitimate business will instruct you to resolve your debt using a payment method such as Bitcoin, money wires, mailed cash or gift cards where the identification numbers are provided over the phone.
- Do not respond to e-mails or text messages requesting you to “confirm,” “update,” or “provide” account information.
The information provided in this press release is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible scams currently circulating. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud are encouraged to visit the police website.