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SALT LAKE CITY — Cases of identity theft now include Salt Lake City Police.
With “spoofing” software, scammers are changing caller IDs to show the main phone number for police, the IRS, and even banks.
They tell potential victims to load thousands of dollars onto Money Pak or Green Dot cards, and share the numbers so they can take the money.
“We’ve had five people call our dispatch center each day,” Det. Cody Lougy said. “They say, ‘Someone just called me and said I have warrants out for my arrest, and they need money. Is that from you guys?’
“Of course, our dispatch center said it’s absolutely not us.”
Victims are told they have to pay off debts or arrest warrants. Federal law prohibits bullying for any of that.
“There’s no business out there, no government entity – not the IRS, not Salt Lake City Police – where we would actually threaten you over the phone with an arrest unless you send us money,” Lougy said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
You can call the number back to verify the caller’s identity before you hand over any cash. However, police cannot trace the caller and cannot retrieve the money once it’s already gone.
Lougy reports that one elderly woman lost $7,000 recently when a scammer pretended to be her grandson.
She went to a local grocery store and purchased several money cards, and clerks even asked her if she was being scammed.
Lougy says it was only after sending the money that the woman had realized she was a victim.