ARLINGTON, Va. – Scammers are always looking for new and inventive ways to steal from hardworking members of the public. In recognizing that an informed consumer is one of the best defenses against fraud, the Arlington County Police Department is sharing common consumer scams reported to law enforcement and tips on how to protect yourself.
Scam #1: The “Imminent Account” Fraud
Residents have reported being contacted by someone alleging to represent the Arlington County Police Department who states the victims have an imminent fraud being perpetuated against them. The caller will relay that the victim needs to withdraw funds from their bank and/or credit card accounts and place the funds on gift cards such as iTunes, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Visa cards for safekeeping. The victims are then directed to provide the gift card information so that the money can be protected.
Law enforcement will never contact you and ask you to move or send funds to anyone. In the event of a breach, bank and/or credit card accounts can be locked by a financial institution. No established companies will contact you and ask for gift cards as a form of payment.
Scam #2: The “I am in Trouble” Scam
These scams tend to originate in the form of an e-mail or phone call from an alleged distant family member. In a recent case, a grandparent was contacted and informed that their grandson was arrested and money for bail or fines was needed. The victim was advised that they should not tell anyone of the situation. In another variation of this scam, an individual contacts the victim and claims they need money because they have been injured. In some cases, scammers will request funds be paid through store gift cards.
These types of scams use fear to rush citizens into making quick financial decisions. Remember that if an individual is arrested, they may contact you directly from jail. Store gift cards are not a form of payment accepted by the courts or bail bonds companies.
Scam #3: The “Jury Duty” or “IRS” Scam
Either through a phone call or an email, like the one depicted below, citizens are threatened that they need to either pay a fine to avoid jail time or that there is a warrant out for their arrest. These emails often include phishing tool hyperlinks to gather information and access additional data on the victim. A telltale indicator that an email is not of a legitimate nature include misspellings and hyperlinks that do not link to a known, verifiable source.
If you receive a “jury duty” call of this nature, immediately hang up with the caller and verify the claim by calling the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office at 703-228-4460. Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility. Also, never provide personal information such as bank account numbers to anyone over the phone.
Reporting Fraud to Police
If you have been a victim or target of a scam in Arlington County, report to police using the online crime report.
Additional Fraud Prevention Tips
Scammers may use various techniques to fool potential victims. Avoid becoming a victim by following these practices:
- Be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls, emails or in-person solicitations which request funds or claim that you owe money.
- Avoid providing your personal information to organizations you are unfamiliar with.
- Stop and think before you provide personal banking information or hand anybody cash.
- Take your time. If you are requested to act quickly or there is a stated emergency, it may be a scam. Scammers create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Remain fiscally secure by following these practices:
- Track and review your bank and credit card statements for irregular activity
- When using an ATM machine, credit card reader or gas pump, make certain the device is securely attached to the machine. If unsecured, alert the business.
- Use the credit card feature at the gas pumps; your zip code, not PIN, is required.
- Do not wire money to anyone you do not know.
- Do not respond to e-mails 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 fraud schemes. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud are encouraged to visit the police website or contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at FinancialCrimes@arlingtonva.us.