Texas Woman Falls Victim to Police Imposter Scam

Inside Subprime: Sept 12, 2018

By Lindsay Frankel

After receiving repeated calls from an unfamiliar number, Plano stylist Courtney Duva finally answered. The caller claimed to have a warrant for her arrest and warned her not to hang up. Courtney Duva was sure it must be a mistake, and she pled her innocence to the man on the phone. But when another call showed the Plano Police Department’s phone number on the caller ID, Duva was caught off guard. This time, the caller claimed that Duva’s identity had been stolen, and that a woman in Austin was using her name while committing drug crimes.

The fake officer expressed concern over the security of Duva’s funds and requested that she load the money in her account onto Google Play gift cards. After transferring $2,000 onto the cards and sending pictures as proof, Duva called the Plano Police Department phone number and finally reached a real officer. At this point, the officer made clear that Duva had been scammed.

Scam artists often use people’s fears to get them to make snap decisions, and this case was no different. Similar scams have become a problem for police departments nationwide, according to Plano Detective Jerry Minton. Minton explained that scam artists are able to fake caller IDs to gain the trust of their victims. “These people are professionals. This is their 9 to 5 job and this is what they’ve been trained to do by other people. Unfortunately, they’re pretty good at it,” Minton explained.

Despite the numerous victims of police imposter scams, Duva couldn’t help but feel personally responsible. “I felt embarrassed, humiliated,” she said. Detective Minton has issued a search warrant to Google to attempt to recover Duva’s funds.

While the threat of law enforcement may be enough to persuade people to pay, consumers need to be aware that the police will never place threatening phone calls requesting money. Those in doubt should hang up immediately and call the police department directly. Speaking with a real detective is the only way to ensure you aren’t being scammed.

Police imposter scams aren’t the only imposter scams out there, either. It’s important to be wary of any callers that request a payout, no matter what the caller ID indicates. Scam artists frequently use caller ID spoofing to trick their victims, whether they are claiming to be from the IRS, the police, or even your own family.

Robocall scams are also on the rise. In a recent Sun-Sentinel article, the senior communications strategist for the National Consumer Law Center noted large populations of “seniors also [make] it an enticing target for scammers, while [low] per-capita income level makes residents more likely to use credit cards and payday lenders — industries responsible for large percentages of robocalls.”

Courtney Duva’s story is just one example of the predatory activities of phone scam artists. To protect yourself from these fraudulent schemes, always verify the identity of the caller by calling the phone number directly.

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