ATLANTA, Ga. (WRBL) – The Attorney’s General Office is warning the public about an imposter scam targeting individuals across Georgia.
The imposter scam involves individuals who pretend to be local law enforcement officials in hopes of adding credibility to their schemes.
News 3 interviewed Communications and Outreach Coordinator Shawn Conroy with the Consumer Protection Division, who detailed the dangers of falling victim to imposter phone scams, how to prevent them, and how to handle them.
Scams conducted via phone, email, and social media are nothing new. They are common, and now criminals are finding new deceptive ways to scam other individuals.
“It’s been going on for years; some variation of impersonator scams have been going on since the telephone has been invented,” said Conroy. “There is a constant influx of imposter scams in a variety of forms that we all need to be on guard of.”
A similar imposter scam is occurring in Russell County, Alabama. Conroy notes that these types are scams do not only target Georgians.
“It’s estimated nationwide. For Robocalls type scams, $ 29 billion is lost a year,” said Conroy. “So these are scams that impact people across the state and the country.”
According to the Attorney’s General Office of Georgia, scammers are also using “spoofing technology”, which allows for calls to appear as if the call is from a legitimate law enforcement agency.
Based on a press release from the Attorney’s General Office of Georgia, scammers are impersonating law enforcement and requesting payment for a missed jury duty or falsely alerting victims that there is a warrant out for their arrest.
Here is some important information regarding the law enforcement impersonator scam provided by the Attorney’s General Office of Georgia:
What you should know:
- In most cases, law enforcement will not call you if a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
- Additionally, law enforcement will never allow for arrangements to be made over the phone to clear a warrant and will not take any forms of payment over the phone for warrants.
- A real warrant is a court-ordered document authorizing any and all law enforcement agencies to arrest the named person, so they can appear before a judge and answer for the given charge.
Jury duty scam:
- This is one of the most common types of scams where criminals pose as law enforcement officials.
- This type of scam is similar to officer impersonation scams in that the scammer claims a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
- The scammer then may ask you for confidential information for “verification” purposes, such as your Social Security number, date of birth or credit card number.
- This personal information could be used to open new accounts and/or apply for credit cards in your name.
What you should do:
- If you encounter an officer impersonation 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 additional tips on imposter scams, visit the Consumer Protection Division website.
Technology, Conroy notes, plays a major role in enabling scammers to further target victims.
“Technology is an issue here too. At the national level, our attorney general, along with attorney generals from throughout the country, have recently begun becoming more involved in a robocall task force, where we are trying to stop the calls that are coming into the country from overseas,” said Conroy. “There are gateway providers that allow the traffic from overseas through internet technology to get into the country, and we’re banding together to crack down on some of the solicit messaging that’s coming in.”
Another mechanism used by scammers is social media. Scammers often use social media to collect personal information on victims and use the information to their advantage.
Conroy pointed out how social media is not only being used in law enforcement impersonator scams but also in other impersonator-styled scams.
“These con artists are sophisticated; they take the time to go on social media to learn about, for example, if you have relatives, allowing them to drop their names in certain types of scams,” said Conroy. “The Grandparent scam is an example where they may learn who a grandchild is and call someone and say ‘oh your grandchild has been hurt’ or ‘I am your grandchild, and I need some money for a bus ticket.’”
Conroy explained that scammers are determined to scam individuals and that they are willing to gather information on local agencies to deceive victims.
“Caution is key here, because the social media aspect of these scams are important, and they will also go down far enough to learn who is the local county sheriff’s office, who is the local bank or credit union,” stated Conroy. “They are getting this local information online. Now, these callers may be calling from overseas, or they could be involved with a gang in prison.”
Now, this begs the question, how can I prevent these scams, and what should I do if a scammer reaches out to me?
Well, Conroy says there are several precautions the public can take to prevent from becoming a victim of a scam.
“It is important for the public to know that this is a three-legged stool in combatting this type of criminal activity,” said Conroy. “Number one, we need education; we need consumers and citizens to be aware that these con artists are out there attempting to steal your information and money through either providing financial information over the phone or encouraging individuals to purchase gift cards.”
Another precaution Conroy advises is for people to check with their cell phone providers. Through advancements in technology, numerous cell phone companies are now able to allow consumers to activate programs to block and regulate potential scam calls.
“So many of us have cellphones, and our providers are giving us the technology to help block some of these unwanted calls. Look at the website for your cellphone provider and look for ways to block calls or install a spam filter.”
Although becoming a scam victim is frightening, Conroy encourages the public to report the scams to help prevent scammers from targeting more victims.
“Also, I want to encourage people to talk to the vulnerable ones in their families and communities to make them aware of these scams and make sure they haven’t fallen victim,” stated Conroy. “Sometimes there is shame in falling victim, but these con artists are sophisticated; they know what they are doing, and we don’t know about it unless it’s reported. The public is our eyes and ears out here.”