Beware scammers impersonating police officers

Published 3:20 pm Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Virginia State Police, the Virginia Fusion Center and the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center have observed numerous fraudulent telephone scams involving police impersonation. In many of these incidents, the scammers claimed to be police officers and provided a valid Virginia State Police telephone number to verify their claims. In some cases the scammers followed up by claiming to be social security officers or attorney generals. The scammers then claimed that the victim’s identify had been stolen, that the victim had current criminal charges or warrants pending, and instructed the victim to send money immediately in order for the charges to be cleared. The scammers most often requested that money be transferred or wired into an account. However, sometimes gift cards as payment were also demanded.

In other cases, the scammers communicated with their victims through Whatsapp, a free messaging application. If the victim blocked the scammers’ telephone number, the scammers persisted to call from an “unknown” or “blocked” telephone number.

According to police, similar scams have been reported in different parts around the country. Different variations of the scam were also reported, including one where the fraudulent police officers requested donations.

Police wish to remind residents that scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, such as a government official, a known authority figure, a charity or a company with which you do business. Scammers tend to create a sense of urgency, manipulating the victims to act quickly.

Police also wish to remind residents that law enforcement will never contact citizens and request payment to clear warrants, and to be cautious of caller ID, as technology has made it possible for scammers to spoof or fake the number from which they are calling.

If you suspect a scam, do online searches. Type phrases that describe your situation into a search engine or search the incoming telephone number and see if others have reported similar scams.

Do not give in to pressure to take immediate action. Do not provide your credit card number, bank account number or other personal information to a caller. Do not send money in any form. Regularly check your credit score and bank statements for unusual activity. Be suspicious if you receive an unexpected request, whether it comes in the form of a telephone call, text, app message or an email.

Telephone scams should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at For additional information, visit