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Got a Call From the Police About Missing Court Appearances? Here's why it Might be a Scam

The rise of phone scams using fake police department numbers is a serious concern that demands public awareness and vigilance.
Bogus Phone Scams Pexels | By Andrea Piacquadio
Bogus Phone Scams Pexels | By Andrea Piacquadio

In recent weeks, residents of Gwinnett County, Georgia, have fallen victim to a rising wave of phone scams, prompting the Gwinnett County Police Department to issue a stern warning, per WSB-TV. Scammers are employing deceptive tactics, making it appear as though the calls originate from the police department itself. This alarming trend has prompted officials to raise awareness about the issue and educate the public on how to recognize and avoid falling prey to these scams.

Bogus calls Pexels | By Andrea Piacquadio
Bogus calls | Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels 

What sets these scams apart is the use of technology to display the police department's actual phone number on victims' devices. This deceptive practice gives the calls an air of legitimacy, so that unsuspecting individuals are more likely to answer. According to the police department, scammers are using a system that manipulates caller ID information, making it seem as though the call is originating from an official police department number. This tactic is a cause for concern as it plays on the trust people have in law enforcement.

Scammers are using a specific ruse during these calls, as part of which victims are informed that they have missed a court appearance and have been sent subpoenas. Notably, the scammers do not immediately bring up the topic of money or payments during these calls. Instead, they rely on the shock and confusion of the alleged missed court appearance to manipulate individuals into compliance. This tactic is particularly insidious as it preys on individuals' fear of legal consequences.

Law enforcement Pexels | By August de Richelieu
Law enforcement | August de Richelieu/Pexels 

The Gwinnett County Police Department has taken a proactive stance in addressing these scams. They have assured the public that they would never request payment over the phone and emphasized that the department does not send subpoenas through phone calls. This clear stance is crucial in dispelling any confusion and ensuring that residents can differentiate between legitimate law enforcement calls and scams.

Scam calls Pexels | By August de Richelieu
Scam calls | August de Richelieu/Pexels 

One key red flag in these scams is the demand for immediate payment. Scammers often pressure individuals to pay promptly using methods such as cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), or wire transfers. Residents should be cautious if asked to make sudden payments and take the time to verify the legitimacy of the call.

Another step to take when you receive a call that raises suspicion is to independently verify the caller's identity. Do not rely on the number displayed on your caller ID as scammers can manipulate this information. Instead, look up the official contact information for the relevant law enforcement agency and call them directly to confirm the legitimacy of the communication.

Regardless of the circumstances, never disclose personal or financial information to unsolicited callers or through email. Legitimate law enforcement agencies will not ask for sensitive information over the phone.

Spread awareness about these scams within your community. The more people are informed about the tactics scammers use, the less likely they are to fall victim. Share information through community groups, social media, and other channels to help protect others from potential scams.

If you receive a suspicious call, report it to the relevant law enforcement agency. Providing information about the scam can aid authorities in their efforts to track down and apprehend the perpetrators.