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AG Nessel warns consumers of law enforcement scam calls

Recently, illegal robocalls have been reported detailing that bad actors are spoofing – falsifying the phone number that appears on your caller ID – local law enforcement phone numbers, and when answered, they may claim the victim’s name is on a package of drugs and money and/or there is a warrant out for their arrest. The scammer tells the victim to wire money and/or purchase gift cards. They are then instructed to provide the gift card numbers over the phone to take care of the warrant.

“My office is committed to our consumer protection work because we recognize that bad actors will truly stop at nothing to swindle anyone out of their personal information and hard earned money,” said Nessel. “Make sure to be aware that no law enforcement agency will ever contact you by phone demanding that you pay, regardless of payment method, for your warrant to disappear. Spoofing allows scammers to disguise their actual phone numbers and instead show a local phone number on the caller ID. If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. Do not fall for it.”

Although gift card scams are not new, they have surfaced in recent weeks across the state – including Calhoun, Kent and Oakland counties – with bad actors posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, deputies, or, in some cases, the Chief of Police.

“The framework of these scams – whether it’s a law enforcement, grandparent, or tech support scam – are always the same. The demands are urgent, they prey on fear, and they always insist on an untraceable payment method,” said Nessel. “The fact is, anyone who demands payment by gift card is a scammer, period. No reputable company or government agency will ever demand payment via gift card.”

The Michigan Department of Attorney General provides a host of resources available online specifically related to robocalls. From identifying the signs of a scam call to actual recordings of such calls, this information is in place to equip anyone with the tools they need to combat this public nuisance. A library of consumer alerts is also available to the public and number of scam examples.

If you believe you are the target of a scam, but want to be sure, hang up the phone immediately and independently verify the identity of the caller. Call the phone number you know to be correct and never give out any personal information to someone who initiates a phone call.