Police: Be on lookout for phone scams

FAIRFIELD – Fairfield Police Lt. Julie Kinsella issued a news release Nov. 14 warning the public about a series of scams that are targeting the elderly. She said a common scam was for someone to impersonate a representative of the Internal Revenue Service and call a victim to tell them they owed back taxes. Another one was the “grandparent scam” whereby a caller pretended to be the victim’s grandchild and claimed to need money for bail or medical expenses.

“Lately, the scammers are impersonating police officers and telling the targeted person they will be arrested if they don’t send large quantities of money through the mail and/or wire money to a certain location,” Kinsella said. “The caller will claim to or may have the targeted person’s name, date of birth, social security number, and bank information. Typically, the caller’s voice has a foreign accent.”

Kinsella said there are a few ways to know right away if you are being scammed. First of all, no law enforcement entity will call you to inform you of an arrest warrant.

“Law enforcement entities will just show up at your door and arrest you,” she said.

Second of all, if a person is arrested, police officers do not handle any cash dealing with bond issues.

“An arrested person will either go through a bail bonds company or pay the bond to the jail staff,” she said.

The bond is paid directly to the agency issuing the warrant, not a third party. Law enforcement agencies will not ask you to send large amounts of cash through the mail whether it is the postal service, UPS, or FedEx.

“Those mailing or shipping services are not supposed to send cash,” Kinsella said.

Kinsella advised against wiring large sums of money to a third party individual at a local you have never been to. If a caller tells you about an arrest warrant, ask for the name of the department that has issued the warrant. She also said that many calls will come from a “spoofed” phone number the targeted person is not familiar with.

“We are asking banking institutions to question any customer who is wiring large sums of money that is out of the ordinary,” Kinsella said. “Please take the time to explain this recent scam. We are asking mailing and shipping businesses to verify that cash is not being mailed or shipped.”

Kinsella said that if you send money to a scammer, it is likely gone for good and will be very difficult “if not impossible” to recover. If you believe you have knowledge of a scam or have been a victim of one, contact your local law enforcement center.