FRAUD ALERT: Common Impersonation Scams

Published on February 07, 2023

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ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about common scams involving individuals impersonating law enforcement and other figures of authority. ACPD is raising awareness about these scams and ways the public can spot and avoid them to keep their personal information and finances safe.

These scams use figures of authority and emergency situations to create a sense of urgency and fear in the caller. As a reminder, Arlington County Police Department personnel will never contact members of the community by telephone, email or text to solicit funds or collect fines. Legitimate government agencies and businesses will also not call individuals and demand immediate payment in the form of gift cards, cryptocurrency or digital cash transfers. Any unsolicited contact that puts you in fear, requests you to act quickly or states there is an emergency requiring you to provide funds or personal identifiable information is likely a scam.

Scam #1: The Jury Duty Scam

Scammers will pose as local law enforcement and contact victims accusing them of failing to appear for jury duty and stating a warrant for their arrest will be issued unless a fine is paid. Payment is often requested in the form of gift cards and the scammer will ask the victim to provide the gift card numbers over the phone. Scammers may also instruct the victim to send the gift cards to a police department as an added appearance of legitimacy. As a reminder, ACPD and the Sheriff’s Office will never call to solicit funds or collect fines over the phone. Additionally, juror summonses are sent through the mail and communication through any other medium should be considered suspicious.

Scam #2: Federal Agent Impersonation Scam

Scammers will call potential victims and pose as federal law enforcement agents in an attempt to extort money or steal their personal identifiable information. There are variations of this scam, among them, that the victim’s name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped in Texas and contains a large quantity of drugs. The scammer then has the victim verify their social security number or tells the victim their bank account has been compromised. In some cases, the scammer threatens the victim with arrest for the fictional drug seizure and instructs them to send money in the form of a gift card or wire transfer to pay a “fine” or to assist with the investigation or with resetting the bank account.

Scam #3: The Injured Family Member Scam

Scammers will call potential victims pretending to be a family member or an attorney in an attempt to extort money. The scammer states the family member has been injured in a car crash, arrested and needs money for bail. If questioned as to why the family member sounds different, the scammer will say it is because of trauma from the crash. The scammer indicates they urgently need money sent to them to assist in the case.

Please note: the information provided in this press release is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible scams currently circulating. Individuals seeking additional information about fraud are encouraged to visit our financial crimes information webpage.

Fraud Crime Prevention Tips

Reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a scam by following these crime prevention tips:

  • Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails.
  • Be cautious of mimicked telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. Even if the information displayed on the caller ID appears the same as a law enforcement or government agency, hang up and call the agency directly to verify the caller’s legitimacy.
  • Never use a phone number provided to you from the caller to verify their credibility.
  • Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don't have ties and did not initiate contact with.
  • Take your time and trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don't sound right, hang up.

Remain fiscally secure by following these practices:

  • Track and review your bank and credit card statements for irregular activity.
  • Avoid unusual payment methods. No government agency or legitimate business will instruct you to resolve your debt using a payment method such as Bitcoin, money wires, cash app, mailed cash or gift cards where the identification numbers are provided over the phone.
  • Do not respond to e-mails or text messages requesting you to “confirm,” “update,” or “provide” account information.

Report Scams

If you find that you were a target or victim of a scam, please file an online police report or call the Alternative Reporting Unit at 703-228-4300.

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