Incident Type: Scam Phone Calls
Incident Date: 1/30/21
Date of Release: 1/30/21
Prepared By: Lt. Edward Hartwick
The Fitchburg Police Department received at least two calls today from local mental health providers reporting they had received suspicious phone calls from someone who identified themself as a member of the Fitchburg Police Department. The scam callers utilized technology to spoof the main police department number and/or provide a local phone number. Recipients of the calls today were able to recognize the suspicious nature of the call and ended the contact. This is the second time in the last two months local mental health providers received this type of scam call. It is not believed the scammers were seeking any type of medical information.
The general premise of the calls was consistent with a common phone scam in which the caller states the call recipient has an arrest warrant or failed to appear for a court case. Generally, these types of calls inform the recipient the situation can be handled civilly or criminally and the recipient can settle the matter civilly by purchasing gift cards, wiring money, or providing personal information. In one call today, the scammer requested explicit photos after admitting the call was a scam. Arrest is also threatened if payment is not made. Scammers often use publicly available information, often from business websites or other public databases, to attempt to add legitimacy to their call. In one call today, the scammer provided the recipient with a former address and indicated officers were coming to their old address.
In regards to this specific scam, it is important to note law enforcement officials will never call you and request financial information or payment to avoid arrest. If you receive a phone call from someone identifying themself as a law enforcement officer and requesting money, it is a scam. Do not provide financial information or follow instructions to make payments. Scam phone calls like this can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (see below) and do not need to be reported directly to local law enforcement. If you fall victim to this, or any other type of scam, and lose money, it can be reported to your local law enforcement agency.
If you receive a call from someone who identifies themself as a law enforcement officer and you wish to verify their identity, obtain the person's name, agency, and badge number. Call the non-emergency number for the agency and describe the situation.
These types of calls are just one of the many common scams in circulation. With the arrival of tax season, and continued scams related to the global pandemic, citizens are encouraged to remain on high alert for phone and email scams.
Most scams can be prevented by:
- Trusting your instincts
- Never giving out personal information over the phone or entering it on an unknown website
- Not opening e-mails from unknown senders
- Hanging up the phone if you believe the call is a scam
Many internet service providers and email services have built in utilities for identifying and flagging fraudulent emails. You can learn more about blocking and preventing robocalls here: https://www.fcc.gov/call-blocking
A full listing of scam and fraud prevention and reporting resources can be found on our website: http://fitchburgwi.gov/1103/Scams-and-Frauds
Have You Received a Fraudulent Phone Call or E-Mail?
Report frauds, scams and bad business practices to the Federal Trade Commission: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
Report internet crimes: https://www.ic3.gov
If you are the victim of a fraud or identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency to file a report. Receipt of a scam phone call or email does not need to be reported to your local law enforcement agency.