VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Police in Virginia Beach are warning citizens of a phone scam that’s active in our area.
The Virginia Beach Police Department says it has received reports that people have been getting phone calls from people claiming to be members of the department. They say the law enforcement impersonator has:
- Referred to the person they are calling by name
- Tells the person their either have an outstanding warrant or that they have missed court appearance or jury duty
- Uses the name of a real Virginia Beach Police officer
- Called from what appears to be a legitimate VBPD phone number
Authorities say the caller will demand the person to send payment by means of prepaid gift cards, prepaid debit cards or wire transfers in order to avoid jail time.
Scammers can generate a fake caller ID (called spoofing), which makes it appear as if they are calling from a legitimate VBPD phone number in an attempt to gain the trust of whomever they are calling. When the victim makes a payment to the scammer using prepaid gift cards or wire transfers in this fashion, officials say it is very difficult to get the money back because the scammer typically accesses the funds right away.
Police are reminding people that the department – or any other legitimate law enforcement agency – will not call citizens seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations or warrants.
VBPD has shared some tips to avoid becoming a victim in this type of scam:
- Ask for the caller’s identity and contact police independently. Do not call the number that appears on your caller ID.
- Do not discuss personal or financial information to unsolicited callers or by email.
- Do not wire money or provide bank account numbers or other financial card numbers (credit, debit or any other prepaid cards) to anyone you do not know.
- Stay private – regularly update privacy settings for social media sites. Scammers will often troll for personal information on Facebook Twitter and other commonly-used sites to make their stories more believable.
If you receive a similar call, police say to disconnect without providing any information or following any instructions from the caller.
If you are a Virginia Beach resident and have fallen victim to one of these scams, you are encouraged to call the Virginia Beach Police non-emergency number (757) 385-5000 to file a report.