Police warn residents of current phone scam

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 9, 2016

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ROYAL OAK — Local police advise residents to take caution when receiving any suspicious calls, as a phone scam is circulating in the area.

Royal Oak Police Department Criminal Investigations Division Lt. David Clemens said the department has recently received several complaints regarding people fraudulently identifying themselves as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and local law enforcement officials and then asking for money.

Clemens said it is easy to obtain the names of federal and local officials from the Internet, along with personal information about the resident they are calling.

Police said a Royal Oak senior citizen was recently scammed out of an undisclosed amount of money after talking with these scammers.

Clemens said the calls with the senior citizen began in early February. He said these types of scammers typically target elderly people.

Clemens said the scammer identified himself as a city police administrator and warned of legal actions against the woman for interference with so-called federal investigations. He said the victim was led to believe that she needed to send money to locations in China in order to halt the legal proceedings.

“Police Department or federal authorities are never going to ask you to send money overseas,” Clemens said. “That is just not going to happen.”

Police said the preferred requested method of money transfer by scammers is MoneyGram wire transfers and online money transfer entities like PayPal.

According to an alert issued by the Royal Oak Police Department, “These scammers can be very convincing and often threaten legal action, incarceration and financial seizure if victims fail to comply.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, common warning signs of telemarketing fraud include when a caller says:

• You must act now or the offer won’t be good.

• You’ve won a free gift, vacation or prize, but you have to pay for postage and handling or other charges.

• You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.

• You don’t need to check out the company with anyone. The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency.

• You don’t need any written information about the caller’s company or their references.

• You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.

Clemens said most phone scams are intricate.

If anyone is contacted by someone they believe could be a scammer, they should never give out any personal information.

“If they believe they are a scammer, they should just hang up; tell them they know it’s a scam and hang up,” Clemens said.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a phone scam should visit the Department of Justice Fraud Section website at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud for applicable information and phone numbers.