Scam Alert: Scammers are posing as Gwinnett County Police Officers. Here’s how you can avoid being ripped off

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There has recently been a renewed wave of scam phone calls from people claiming to be officers with the Gwinnett County Police Department.

The callers identify themselves as a police officer, usually using the name of a real officer obtained from the internet.

According to Gwinnett Police Sgt. Jake Smith, the scammers have used his name to try to collect from unknowing residents.

“I was recently notified that someone attempted the scam claiming to be me and calling from a number associated with GCPD. This particular caller demanded Bitcoin,” Smith said.

Generally, the scam callers threaten arrest or some other action if money is not provided to them. Variations on this scam include:

  • A utility and service will be immediately terminated if payment isn’t received
  •  A relative who has been arrested and needs money for bail or to remove a charge
  • Immediate payment is needed for an outstanding warrant/ticket or the victim will be arrested.
  • The IRS and back taxes are owed
  • A pre-approved loan is available or a lottery has been won, if victim will send a small start-up fee
  • An immigration authority claiming a person will be deported if payment isn’t received

The common thread is that suspects ask for payment on prepaid debit cards (such as Green Dot), gift cards, cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin), or wire transfer, which are appealing to criminals because the money is difficult to track, if not impossible. A recent trend is a demand for cash to be sent via FedEx.

Scammers are using a computer program to make caller I.D. show a legitimate agency’s phone number, or any other number they want, which makes the scam more believable. 

Smith notes that the Gwinnett County Police Department will never ask for payment of any sort over the phone.

Prevention tips

  • Be suspicious of anyone calling and demanding immediate payment, especially by:
  • prepaid debit card (such as Green Dot)
  • gift cards
  • cryptocurrency (such as bitcoin)
  • wire transfer
  • cash via FedEx or other courier
  • Ask for the caller’s identity and independently contact the agency. Do not call the number that appears on your caller I.D.
  • Do not disclose personal or financial information to unsolicited callers or by email
  • Do not wire money or provide bank account numbers or financial transaction card numbers (credit, debit, Green Dot, or any other prepaid card) to anyone you don’t know
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