Franklinton PD warns of another phone-based scam

Published 9:00 am Friday, March 20, 2015

On Tuesday, March 17, the Franklinton Police Department received a complaint regarding a texting scam.

The victim of the scam told police they had received a text message saying there was a warrant out for their arrest. A telephone number was provided in the text, along with an officer’s name and warrant numbers.

The fictitious name, M. Lewis LLP & Associates, was used, along with attorney Richard Smith as a point of contact.

The victim was afraid a warrant had actually been issued. They contacted the number and received the same information. The victim was instructed to obtain a money gram and send a specified amount via Western Union. A name and location were provided regarding to where the money gram was to be forwarded. The recipient was described as an employee processing the payment.

The victim complied by sending the money. That person subsequently received a call the following day saying the payment was being returned. The victim was then instructed to go to Western Union and pay a different amount, as the first payment was not processed. The victim again did as instructed and completed the transaction.

Scams such as the one described above can be very convincing. In the case above, the victim received a call from a number that is registered to the Franklinton Police Department. Scammers utilize cellphones and computers to make the call appear as if it is in fact originating from a legitimate source. Documents that appear to be official are emailed and contain names, logos and personal information about the potential victim.

Without having a complete understanding of how the criminal justice system works, victims are often lured into sending money to prevent themselves from being arrested.

There are an unlimited number of scams with differing variations. The intent and goal, however, is always the same. Money sent in this manner is almost impossible to recover, and suspects are rarely identified.

The Franklinton Police Department will not accept payments over the telephone nor will anyone receive a call asking for payments. In the future, a collection agency working on behalf of the police department will make calls regarding outstanding fines and fees. The public can simply contact the police department to verify the validity of the call and make arrangements for payment.

The police department asks residents to be aware and cautious when receiving such calls. An extraordinary amount of personal information can be obtained from the Internet, making the potential scammers claims seem legitimate.

The Franklinton Police Department asks residents to verify everything and not send money to anyone making claims to have a warrant issued for an arrest. According to the department, the public needs to use sound judgment and advises that if it sounds like a scam, it most likely is.