Atlanta, GA. (WBL) – The Attorney General’s Office is warning the public of a scammer scam targeting individuals across Georgia.
The scammer scam involves people posing as local law enforcement officials in hopes of adding credibility to their schemes.
News 3 interviewed Communications and Outreach Coordinator Shawn Conroy of the Consumer Protection Division, who detailed the dangers of falling victim to scam phone scams, how to prevent them, and how to deal with them.
Scams conducted over the phone, email, and social media are nothing new. They are widespread and now criminals are finding new deceptive ways to scam other people.
“It’s been like this for years; Since the invention of the telephone, there have been a few variations on impersonator scams,” Conroy said. “There is a constant influx of scams in a variety of forms that we all need to be on our guard against.”
A similar scammer scam is taking place in Russell County, Alabama. Conroy notes that these types of scams are not just aimed at Georgians.
“It’s appreciated across the country. $29 billion is lost annually to robocall-type scams,” said Conroy. “So these are scams that are affecting people across the state and across the country.”
According to the Georgia Attorney General, scammers also use “spoofing technology” that can make calls appear to come from a legitimate law enforcement agency.
According to a press release from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, scammers pose as law enforcement officials and demand payment for a missed jury duty or falsely alert victims that they have a warrant out for their arrest.
Here is some key information on the law enforcement impersonator scam provided by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office:
What you should know:
- In most cases, law enforcement will not call you if they have a warrant out for your arrest.
- In addition, law enforcement will never allow telephone arrangements to complete a warrant, nor will they accept warrant forms of payment over the phone.
- A genuine arrest warrant is a court-ordered document that authorizes any law enforcement agency to arrest the named person so that he or she may appear before a judge and answer the charged charges.
Jury duty cheating:
- This is one of the most common types of scams in which criminals pose as law enforcement officials.
- This type of scam is similar to officer identity scams in that the scammer claims that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
- The scammer may then ask you for sensitive information, such as your social security number, date of birth, or credit card number, for “verification purposes.”
- This personal information may be used to open new accounts and/or apply for credit cards on your behalf.
What you should do:
- If you encounter an officer identity scam, hang up and contact local law enforcement directly to file a report.
- Georgians can also contact the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (404) 651-8600 or file a complaint online.
- For more tips on scammer scams, visit the Consumer Protection Division website.
Technology, according to Conroy, plays an important role in enabling scammers to further target victims.
“Technology is also an issue here. At the national level, our Attorney General, along with Attorneys General from across the country, recently began becoming more involved in a robocall task force where we are trying to stop the calls coming into the country from overseas,” Conroy said. “There are gateway providers that allow traffic from abroad to come into the country through internet technology, and we’re teaming up to crack down on some of the incoming solicited messages.”
Another mechanism used by scammers is social media. Scammers often use social media to collect personal information about victims and use the information to their advantage.
Conroy pointed out that social media is used not only in law enforcement impersonator scams, but also in other impersonator-style scams.
“These scammers are sophisticated; They take the time to educate themselves on social media, for example to see if you have relatives and allow them to give their names in certain types of scams,” Conroy said. “The grandparent scam is an example where they find out who a grandchild is and call someone and say, ‘Oh, your grandchild was hurt,’ or ‘I’m your grandchild and I need some money for a bus fare.'”
Conroy explained that scammers are determined to scam individuals and are willing to gather information about local authorities in order to fool victims.
“Caution is key here because the social media aspect of these scams is important, and they will also go far enough to learn who the local county sheriff’s office is, who the local bank or credit union is,” Conroy said . “You get this local information online. Well, these callers might be calling from abroad, or they might be connected to a gang in prison.”
Now the question arises, how can I prevent these scams and what should I do if a scammer approaches me?
Well, Conroy says there are several precautions the public can take to avoid falling victim to a scam.
“It’s important for the public to know that this is a three-legged stool to combat this type of criminal activity,” Conroy said. “First, we need education; We need to make consumers and citizens aware that these scammers are out there trying to steal your information and money, either by giving out financial information over the phone or by encouraging individuals to purchase gift cards.”
Another precaution Conroy recommends is to check with your cell phone service provider. With advances in technology, many wireless companies are now able to allow consumers to enable programs to block and regulate potential fraudulent calls.
“So many of us have cell phones, and our providers are giving us the technology to block some of these unwanted calls. Check your carrier’s website for ways to block calls or install a spam filter.”
Although falling victim to a scam is scary, Conroy encourages the public to report the scams to prevent scammers from targeting more victims.
“Also, I want to encourage people to speak to the vulnerable in their families and communities to make them aware of these scams and make sure they are not victims,” Conroy said. “Sometimes it’s a shame to be a victim, but these scammers are cunning; They know what they’re doing and we don’t know about it unless it’s reported. The public is our eyes and ears out here.”