Skip to main content

We know scammers are out there, impersonating the authorities and conjuring up different schemes to fool people into giving them money. They might say they’re calling from the IRS because you owe taxes. Or claim they’re from the FTC, calling to help you recover money lost to a scammer. But now we’re hearing about a new ploy: scammers are impersonating the police! That takes some chutzpah, huh? Here’s how it works.

You get a phone call. Someone you care about is in jail and, they say, you need to pay up to bail him out. The scam-detecting radar in your head immediately goes off. You’re skeptical – but the caller ID says the call is from the police department. And, let’s be honest, your nephew is a knucklehead and you can totally imagine him being arrested. So, you keep listening.

The caller tells you to put money on a prepaid card and give him the card number. Now your scam-detecting radar is going off the charts. You know that police departments — and the federal government, for that matter — don’t tell people to pay with prepaid cards. You also know using a prepaid card is like paying cash — once the money is gone, you can’t get it back.

“But what about the caller ID?” you wonder. In fact, what seems like reliable information about the source of a call isn’t so reliable anymore. Scammers can rig caller ID to look like they’re calling from the police department. Or, really, anywhere — even your own number. Don’t rely on caller ID. It’s not foolproof. Scammers can easily spoof it to try to gain your trust. If it looks like the police are calling, look up the non-emergency phone number (hint: it’s not 9-1-1) and call to find out if the story is legit. You’ll soon learn it’s a scam.

Report the imposter to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Select the category “Scams and Rip-offs” then “Impostor Scams”.

To learn more, read Government Imposter Scams or listen to these tips.

Search Terms

179 Comments

sentinela6887
July 17, 2015
yo recibo llamdas de ameica associatio of state troopers dallas texas me llama un oficial ono se para donacion patrulleros de camino e ayudado poco pero sera sierto o estafa... mandemen un imeo por favor..
Carlos salinas
July 17, 2015
Si lo creó.....ya ven peña nieto se hace pasar como nuestro presidente...lo bueno que nadie se lo cree
silverwolf
July 17, 2015
I got a call yesterday saying they were from social security and that I was picked for a $5,789.00 non taxable grant only thing I had to do was wire them $400.00 than they would wire me back the money I also got a call from some one claiming to be a credit card debit reilfe guy he said they could help me get my credit card debt paid off and my taxs,paid off but I would have to pay them if they helped me I told them I don't owe taxs,nor do I owe anything on creditcards
ldlc
July 18, 2015
De westen unuon de EU me pidieron informacion personal y me exigieron 500 dolares para un primer pago. Yo le dije dame mas datos sobre ese dinero y les dije voy a informarlo a la policia es un tal Rev. Rolando
miltee
July 17, 2015
This is so true. Someone called yesterday asking to speak to my husband and claimed to be from IRS. It sounded so fishy, I asked "What IRS?" and she says, "you know the real IRS." LOL! She hung up when I told her to write us a letter about the matter.
Gerardo
July 19, 2015
Gracias por alertarnos a tantas estafas uno que trabaja dura para regalarle su dinero a algun abusador o estafador no es justo de Nuevo gracias
kcadran
July 20, 2015
Good information, but........pls tell us what FTC is doing to terminate such illegal activity. In recent months, the number of telephone calls, with a false ID number has increased, including calls from my own number. Likewise, am now getting more and more e-mails from multiple businesses,none of which I have requested. Simply put,I keep reading about the problem, but read nothing about the solution. Sure, occasionally, a report is seen about some business that is being prosecuted, but never and report on whether they were found guilty, fined, sent to jail.... If the criminals cals be tech savvy, why can't our government agencies do the something to immediately counteract illegal activity.
JUDYVAGO
July 19, 2015
DE VERAS A LA GENTE EXTRAÑA NO SE LE PUEDE AUTORIZAR NADA,ASÍ LLEGUEN CON CARNETS,UNIFORMES ETC. AHORA YA LOS LADRONES Y ESTAFADORES SE DISFRAZAN DE TODO, Y LA GENTE QUE LES CREE SE PASA DE INCAUTA.
Andy S
January 03, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

So when you catch a scammer what question should you ask them so that you will be sure that they are lying
Fred S
November 09, 2017

In reply to by Andy S

One simple and fairly reliable strategy you can use to determine the legitimacy --- or lack thereof! --- of a possibly-bogus call like this is to ask the caller a question that only you and whomever he is claiming to be would know the answer to. For example, if you receive a call that is supposedly a follow-up call from a police officer who stopped you earlier that day, and who now supposedly needs more information from you or needs to tell you of additional crimes/violations that you have supposedly committed, interrupt the caller and say, "You know what? I don't believe that you're really from the police department --- you will need to tell me what it was that you pulled me over for today, or I will not listen to you any further." This will almost certainly call the prank-caller's bluff, since --- especially if the reason for the stop could not have been plainly obvious to any observers/passersby at the time, such as speeding or drunken driving --- the prankster could probably have no way of knowing for sure why you had gotten pulled over, and so he would not likely be able to guess the reason; this will reveal to you that in reality the caller is just an ordinary civilian who had merely observed your brush with the law earlier that day and is now simply trying to have some sick 'n' selfish fun at your expense. And besides, a real officer is probably not going to call you up and basically just "shoot the breeze" with you like this, especially if it's been many hours since the stop. Plus he would almost certainly have already asked you all the necessary questions and informed you of any and all violations AT THE TIME HE PULLED YOU OVER, not that evening or the next day.
Julie1012
July 05, 2018

In reply to by Carly q

A number called impersonating police. Said there were charges pressed against me & to call a special number to talk about it or the police were going to arrest me. It was a New York number. I was so scared i started crying. When i calmed down the number said spam. I would like to know why these ppl are not arrested. They are impersonating a police officer.
Vee22
January 17, 2019

In reply to by Julie1012

Got a call from the police department talking about an arrest warrant. When I said I didn’t know what arrest warrant they were talking about, they got really upset and started saying I’m being uncooperative and disrespectful. I already had the suspicion that it was a spam call, but I didn’t want to dismiss it 100% just in case.. so I asked if there was a call back number. Again, the “officer” got really upset and asked why I needed to call back with a harsh tone. When I was trying to explain, he kept cutting me off, accused me of things I couldn’t understand and threatening to use other means to take care of my arrest warrant. I knew that a real officer wouldn’t be reacting this harshly. Although I couldn’t help but get freaked out by his urgency and demanding tone. I stayed as calm as I could and told him that I want to be cooperative. Again, he cuts me off before I could finish saying that it’s not about me being cooperative, and that if I don’t even know about the arrest warrant, then he needs to escalate the issue. Finally, I asked if he could just repeat his officer number so I could jot it down in case our call gets disconnected. After I asked this, he hangs up.
Dallas downtown
September 14, 2019

In reply to by Vee22

I recently got a call from some number, he said he is from police dept he told me that he has my wife and mine arrest warrant as I forget to fill some immigrantion document he didn't give me time to check what is that he told to switched of my mobile and laptop, all network except from the number on which he called, he said don't call anybody or message else your punishment will be for more year if I hang up or disconnect his phone , he threatened us like anything we couldn't able to think anything because we did all documentation according to employer, he told that document is not employer responsibilities that's ours we told we are not aware about it, he told we are irresponsible and he talks very loudly and harshly, he told he freezer our passport and all he asked us our passport number too as gave it him because the number his showed us same which was showing in Capitol Police website we don't want to take a chance to obey what he is saying later he asked us how many credit card and debit card we are holding then I got suspicious and my wife called from other number to 911 told we are not sure they are police or not. Please send some to our address, we got scared like anything he told me slap me myself for putting my wife life in danger for not filling form and so many scared thing...
Jacky
April 11, 2019

In reply to by kcadran

I just missed a call from a 911 operator , it appeared as 202 225 0911. I called back and a lady answered "911 operator whats your emergency?" . I was surprised because I never called emergency and the lady sounded a little more relaxed than regular 911 responders and her background was completely silent unlike the regular noisy 911 background. This scam now is in 911 as well, worse they call using 911 numbers, wow.
JJ
April 26, 2019

In reply to by Jacky

It happened to me ..I gave a call back the officer very calm checked the info I provided him and exact time & told me" it was SCAM" .. It was second time in a week I had scam the other one robot talked ..hope they can find who are doing this bad calls to people
GeneralAgreement
July 17, 2015
What about when I call the FTC and they impersonate the FTC? Feigning that they will act on my complaint, passing the buck and telling me it's not their department while I get ripped off? Who is the scammer then?
Panchito
July 20, 2015
Yo recibí una llamada desde jamaicano diciéndome que había ganado 4 millones de dólares y que para fin de dármelos que les diera mi cuenta bancaria y no les creí y hasta les dije que si habían fumado marihuana o si se hecharon narizazo de cocaína y zas colgaron ja ja jaaa.
Sam
January 15, 2018

In reply to by GeneralAgreement

Scammers initiate contact. If you look up the FTC's number on their website and call them, then you know you are talking to the FTC. It's when someone calls you claiming to be from a government agency you need to be wary.
Reo1935
July 17, 2015
Thanks for the info.
Miguel
October 19, 2016
Estuve navegando en internet y entre a un par de pagina de servicio de masajes erotico. Tres semanas despues me llamaron diciendo que era un policia en contra de la prostitution y queria dinero. Me hecho in cuento y pidio dinero para los padres de las supuestas victimas de prostitucion. Me llamo del 9542176932
Saidbarahona20
September 12, 2017

In reply to by Miguel

A mi me llamaron por lo mismo y querían 1200 que los pusiera a República Dominicana a nombre de alguien y que no le dijera a nadie porque estaba en investigación lo rado es raro que sólo dominicanos hablaban y no abia ningúna persona de blanca hay con ellos y salía un número de la Policía y lo ponía en Internet y era de la Policía pero nunca me quisieron dar los números de las placas de ellos
Francisco07
October 24, 2017

In reply to by Saidbarahona20

jajaja ami me lla.aron igual de este numero 973-792-3000
albeiro
November 08, 2016
hola que app me premite saber si me llaman de la policia?
sinley
February 14, 2018
Me están llamando de este número 8609244716 y dicen que es la policia local que me comunique a ese mismo número pero marco y suena ocupado no se si sea una est
Rigo
April 02, 2018
Necesito ayuda
edmora55
July 17, 2015
Thanks so much for this advise, it helps
senator foghorn
July 17, 2015
i;m still gitin robokalls! how do i report this and too who? ams alredy on the kall list!.
Flor63
February 04, 2019
Es bueno estar informado amo me llamaron hoy diciéndome que tengo una demanda en Florida pero la llamada era de texas. Ayuda!! me dijo que era una policía
cng740
July 20, 2015
it was bound to happen.
lara
May 24, 2019
que fuerte me parece, ni que hicieran daño a la gente por hacer masajes eróticos
EWJ
July 17, 2015
Rec'd several call from number 815-516-0966. Caller ID reads: Illinois Police...These are scammers. FYI, City of Chicago/Chicago Police Department is area code 312.
Jr paz
December 26, 2019
Unos dias andaba en internet buscando nalgas y depues de unos dos dias me llamaron y lo raro esque eran pues dominicanosos dos que me llamaron se hicieron pasar por policias de santa maria Ca ! Y que les depositara y el dinero iva para un tal jesus manuel villanueva y igual en rep dominicana como ven
FTC Staff
July 20, 2015

In reply to by EWJ

You can report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you provide will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database that law enforcement uses.

Anuel
June 15, 2020
Acabo de recibir una llamada de un agente federal, días atrás busque servicios de masajes eroticos y decían que la persona que trate de contactar era menor de edad pero por que no tenía récord criminal me ayudarían a limpiar esto. Qie si lo hacía de la forma pública mi familia se enteraría de todo, que me daban la forma legal por ser buen ciudadano, que solo le mandara $1500 a la familia. Elegí la forma pública y me colgaron inmediatamente. Jajaja
carolpebbles
July 17, 2015
I have "trooper " organizations and police organizations calling for donation, claimed it was for alabama troopers but when envelope arrived, return address was Wisconsin. I think this is a scam. I wish my name could be removed. Is it a scam?
FTC Staff
July 20, 2015

In reply to by carolpebbles

If you don't want to get more calls, tell a caller to take your name off their list.

crypter27
June 24, 2018

In reply to by carolpebbles

I got a call from a guy calling him a recording calling himself officer Jerry Williams threatening to shut down my windows. IP address, the trouble is I haven't used windows in a long time I use chrome.
ramsis
August 27, 2021

In reply to by Anuel

hola me acaba de pasar lo mismo ...supuestos policias atraparon a proxenetas con menores de edad y que mi numero estaba en el celular que si no llego a un arreglo me van a citar
Anuel
June 15, 2020
Acabo de recibir una llamada de un agente federal, días atrás busque servicios de masajes eroticos y decían que la persona que trate de contactar era menor de edad pero por que no tenía récord criminal me ayudarían a limpiar esto. Qie si lo hacía de la forma pública mi familia se enteraría de todo, que me daban la forma legal por ser buen ciudadano, que solo le mandara $1500 a la familia. Elegí la forma pública y me colgaron inmediatamente. Jajaja
12345
July 18, 2015
Thank you for the ALERTS and REMINDERS!As a person who lived the horror of an ID theft about a year or so back, I really appreciate your articles of eye-openers. Keep up the good work!
George Carlin Fan
July 20, 2015
I know that scammers are really sophisticated with their rip-off rackets and I DO NOT condone them in any way, shape, or form. That being said, anyone foolish enough to fall for this one might just need to learn a lesson for being so naive. So, I hope that they are reading this instead.
I hate Ignoran…
July 21, 2015

In reply to by George Carlin Fan

You are ignorant and hateful....most of these SCAMS are happening to our grandparents and you say they deserve to be robbed of their limited income? You Blow!!!!!