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Phone Scams: How To Recognize, Avoid Them

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department provides tips on how to avoid phone scams with people posing as law enforcement officials.

If you receive a demand for payment by telephone, email, or other means of communication, to be made in any form for any reason, from someone portraying themself as a deputy sheriff or other Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employee, do not comply.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel will never ask for payment over the phone or by email.

Some tips to identify a potential threat-based impersonation scam and how to prevent yourself from falling prey to this scam or similar scams include:

Scammers conduct social media and Internet reconnaissance on their potential victims.

Scammers call and deceive their victims into thinking the callers are law enforcement officers or from a government agency.

Scammers may spoof a law enforcement phone number, falsely showing on the victim’s caller ID.
They threaten victims with arrest for outstanding warrants or other legal issues.

They instruct the victims to “resolve” the matter by “posting bail” with gift cards or Bitcoin.
Once a victim makes the purchase, the scammer instructs them to read the gift card numbers or bitcoin key over the phone.

Once the scammer is satisfied they received the necessary information, the line is disconnected.

If you are unsure if a call or email is real, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent.

L.A. County Sheriff’s officials also warn to not feel pressured by a threatening caller. Hang up and verify their story.

Never send money, or give out bank account, credit card, or personal information to anyone you do not know or trust. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel or any government agency will never ask for any type of payment over the telephone. Financial transactions with our agency are handled at patrol stations, courthouses, and custody facilities.

If you believe you were a victim of this type of crime, contact your local law enforcement agency and report the incident. You can find the contact information for your local law enforcement agency at www.lasd.org/stations.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google Play or the Apple App Store or by using the website.

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Phone Scams: How To Recognize, Avoid Them

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