Posts Tagged arrest

Police descend on Appleton home after scam call

Jim Collar, Post-Crescent Media12:42 p.m. CDT September 4, 2014

An unsuspecting Appleton couple were confronted by officers with their guns drawn Wednesday after a scam artist falsely reported a violent, domestic incident at their home.

Police arrived at the southside residence about 5 p.m. after a female caller reported that her husband was armed and drunk and acting violently. Police detained the man briefly, but quickly determined there was no violence and neither resident made the report. Police say the call likely came from overseas as part of what’s commonly known as the “IRS scam.”

“It was disturbing for the family, and it’s also disturbing to us,” Sgt. Dave Lund said.

Police say the couple received a call earlier by a person claiming to be an IRS agent and informing them they owed money. It’s a common scam, and operators typically threaten arrest if their target refuses to pay immediately.

The false police report is a tactic known as “swatting,” since the calls often result with SWAT teams being sent to a home.

Lund said it’s unknown whether the police call was motivated by revenge or an attempt to make the scam call appear credible.

The Appleton residents challenged the caller’s claim of working for the government agency.

“They began to question and the caller became threatening, saying they needed to act immediately on the alleged debt,” Lund said. “They threatened to send people over to make an arrest. That’s not the way the government operates when it comes to debts.”

The scam operator told a dispatcher she locked herself in a bedroom with her two young children and feared for her life. She said her husband was drunk, wielding a knife and was trying to kick down the door.

The police department sent several officers to the home.

Lund credited the couple for obeying police commands even though they were baffled by the circumstances.

Officers say the situation was an unfortunate example of what can happen when someone engages in conversation with scam callers. The best response is to simply hang up. Residents should avoid returning calls after receiving a suspicious voicemail or responding to suspicious email messages.

Police are investigating, but Lund said it may be difficult for officers to determine the origin of the call.

Officials believe the call to the Appleton home was part of an international scam that uses several phone companies to eventually route calls into foreign countries.

The IRS reports the scam has grown across the country.

As of March, federal authorities received 20,000 reports of contact, thousands of victims and more than $1 million in losses.

Those involved have used convincing tactics against unsuspecting targets. Scam callers, for instance, are often able to repeat the last four digits of their target’s Social Security number and they’re often able to use caller ID to make a call appear legitimate. After threatening arrest or a license revocation, scammers have hung up and called back, pretending to be police.

Those who have unpaid debts will receive written notice through the mail, according to the IRS. The agency never asks for credit or debit card information by phone.

Lund said the call created unnecessary danger, a frightening experience for residents and took officers away from other duties at a busy time of day.

“Thankfully, this situation turned out in the best way it could have,” Lund said. “The family was definitely shaken up, but they understand why we responded as we did.”

— Jim Collar: 920-993-1000, ext. 216, or; on Twitter @JimCollar

Suspicious call? Check this list

The Internal Revenue Service reports widespread growth of a scam in which callers purport to be government agents collecting debt. The agency reports several components of the scam should give residents reason for suspicion based on the agency’s practices:

• The IRS doesn’t call about taxes without having first mailed an official notice.

• The IRS doesn’t demand payment without giving an opportunity to appeal the amount owed.

• The IRS doesn’t require a specific form of payment such as pre-paid debit card, or ask for debit or credit card numbers by phone.

• The IRS doesn’t arrest for failure to pay.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

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Countrywide scam involving red light camera arrest threat arrives in N.J.

By Terry Wright/Hunterdon County Democrat 
on September 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM, updated September 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

FLEMINGTON – If you get a call from a man claiming you can avoid arrest on a warrant by buying a Green Dot debit card and providing its P.I.N. to the caller, don’t bite.

It’s a scam, according to Detective Michael Mariaschin of the Flemington police.

The racket involves supposedly ignoring a ticket for running a red light and being caught by an automatic camera.

Similar scams have been reported elsewhere across the country, some supposedly from law enforcement and others involving threats to shut off gas or electricity unless a bill is paid.

A husband and wife who live in the borough lost $365 in the scam Monday, Mariaschin reported today. There was also an unsuccessful attempt to defraud another person, he said. Patrolman Louis Hribik took the initial reports.

The caller says he’s a lieutenant in the Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office and has an arrest warrant because the person he called did not show up in court to answer the supposed red-light ticket, Mariaschin explained. The “warrant” is for $365.

The “officer” says the person named in the warrant can avoid arrest by purchasing a Green Dot card — which can be done over the phone or online — then calling the “officer” back and providing the authorization number. The “officer” can then withdraw the money from the account.

Law enforcement officers of any type don’t tell people to provide money card information to avoid arrest. Besides that, Flemington has no red-light cameras, Mariaschin noted.

Normally sheriff’s officers go out in person to serve an arrest warrant, said Sheriff Fred Brown, who was informed of the scam last night. Occasionally, if they know the person being sought has been arrested before on a non-support warrant, for example, and is wanted again, an officer might call the person “and tell him to come in to the office and take care of it.”

But the money has to be paid in person, not over the phone, he emphasized.

Mariaschin and Brown have this simple advice: if you get such a call asking you to pay something by card this way, don’t pay but immediately call the police, the Sheriff’s Office at 908-788-1166 or the Prosecutor’s Office at 908-788-1129.

A person receiving this type of call should not send money nor buy any electronic account cards, Brown warned.

Mariaschin has the phone number of the person who was making the calls and is tracking the man down. ‘I hope to make an arrest” soon, he said.

The Green Dot Corp. has posted on its website tips about avoiding fraud.

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