Beware of Police Impersonators

Photo courtesy of flickr user Chris Campbell

Photo courtesy of flickr user Chris Campbell

In a release this morning, the Metropolitan Police Department is warning residents of a new scam in which callers pose as MPD or Internal Revenue Service officials:

“Several complaints received were from out-of-state residents claiming that law enforcement personnel (calling from a 202 area code) have contacted them under the ruse of collecting money for outstanding bills, tickets or loans.  In some instances, the suspect has even represented themselves as a detective with the Financial Crime Unit of The Metropolitan Police Department or as an IRS Agent.   

In these cases the scammer uses a law enforcement angle to attempt to add legitimacy and urgency to the hoax by threatening arrest or prosecution.  These scams always ask for money to be wired via Western Union, MoneyGram, or Greendot “MoneyPaks”, in order for one to avoid prosecution.  Often times they use the actual names of government or law enforcement personnel to enhance the credibility of the scam.

Scammers are increasingly using “Magic Jack” or VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).  Magic Jack and VOIP are simply making phone calls thru a computer network.  With this technology it is easy to make phone calls or conduct scams that appear to be local but are not.  In these cases, the scammer can obtain a DC area code (or any area code) yet they are physically located overseas.  Since the money is almost always transferred overseas, law enforcement officials are unable to investigate the crime and the wire service is unable to reimburse the funds.

Law enforcement agencies will not attempt to collect fines or outstanding debt from citizens. Furthermore, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone calls or email. Anytime that someone you don’t personally know asks for any type of wire transfer, there is a 99% chance IT IS A SCAM.

Citizens should also be reminded to never give out their personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call or email. 

The Metropolitan Police Department takes all scams seriously.  If you believe that you’ve been targeted by this type of scam, please contact the Financial Crime and Fraud Unit at 202-727-4159 or  Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.”