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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.

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179 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

JJ
August 23, 2018
I just got a phone call saying that If I don't call them back that law enforcement will come to get me. 657-242-3935
ajay
September 13, 2018
Just received a call with caller id as 911. I ignored the first time but the caller kept calling. "I am officer ... from 911 call center calling about a serious matter. Please state your name ..." I just answered that their caller id is showing up Unknown and hung up.
Fran
September 17, 2018
A call saying it was the police and they found charges against me and are coming for an arrest and to call them right back. Name of caller: Johnston, V phone # is: 248-292-1157
Feeling scammed!
November 08, 2018
I feel like I've been scammed and I am positive I am scammed, I've been given and been provided with an I.D. of someone else's that may also have been scammed as I did.. can I bring it into my local police department and turn in the I.D. of some one who I think maybe a scammer?
Saty
December 07, 2018
Today I got a call from +911 3 times, I was able to pick last call and guy who called me as David, said that I will be arrested, I said Ok, then says please don't change the location, I responded Ok then he cut the call please don't get into trouble if you get these type of calls, just ignore
godfreygirl143
January 28, 2019
I just received my second call and Caller ID said Alton Police Department. Of course I picked up....and it was a solicitation for health insurance. I called the Police Department and there's nothing they can do. SO tired of solicitor robocalls!!!
Concerned citizen
February 17, 2019
I got a number from 4062058605, they were impersonating the police department of a city where the number isn't even from. I don't understand why people impersonate the police just to try and intimidate you. Do not trust this number!
Crys Washington
May 19, 2019
A man called my daughter’s cellphone Yesterday stating that he was Trent Stevens a homicide detective. He told my daughter he found her friends phone (which he texted her from first requesting a number to call her about her friends murder) at a crime scene and needed information. Once my daughter burst into tears saying her friend was murdered; I quickly took the phone and introduced myself as the mother. He preceded to tell me that he found my daughter’s friends phone at a crime scene and he was shot in the head. Once the conversation ended I asked my daughter to forward me the text messages that he sent from her friends phone number. Once I notice that the details that the guy told me on the phone didn’t match the text messages; I become suspicious. So I called this phone number back that I’m reporting asking for a Trent Stevens. The man who answered the phone said he is not Trent Stevens and he let a homeless man use his phone. His name is Bob and works at a car dealership in Florida. I still felt like something wasn’t right. I called her Friends number and a man answered and said he was a Lyft driver and someone left their phone in his car, so he stole it and he likes it then hung up on me once a mention a homicide detective texted me. So I sent my daughter’s friend ( the one who was suppose to be dead) a message on his Instagram then I video called him. Her friend answered the video call and my daughter was relieved and in tears of joy to see her friend was not dead. Her friend told us he left his phone in a lyft and the driver said he can’t have his phone back after he contacted him about the lost phone. This sick man has been reported to Lyft and the Florida police department for theft and impersonating a homicide detective.
Anne
May 29, 2019
Got 5 or 6 calls from 936-647-1100 stating they are officer Kelly Williams from the ss office and I have fraudulent charges and they are going to file legal charges against me. Called them back all times told them to quit calling and that they were not from the SS office.
KDHEN
June 14, 2019
608-261-9694‬ on my caller ID. Caller said they were the police & had a warrant for my arrest. Said I skipped out on jury duty & would go to jail unless I paid $2,500 now. I hung up & Googled the number. It's to the Madison Police Admin Bldg! I just did jury duty in 2017. Ridiculous.
Tim
July 19, 2019
I have been called two weeks in a row, wont donations for my local Police Department. Phone number (17314195228). Of course I couldn't get a word in edge wise. So I started repeating, But the point is, But the point is, finally he said what is the point. You have called me two weeks in a row for the same thing. I live on a limited income, and I am disable with a broke neck. He wouldn't hearing that so I said come get me I am ready to go to Jail, Let the jail pay all of my Doctors and Medications because i can not afford it. After the call I blocked the number. Just thought this was worth sharing.
aggervatedemployee
August 03, 2019
the number that you call back of 866-487-4511 is actually to a dealership in Columbia South Carolina , this is a scam and trust me the employees are not thrilled to have tones of calls just to be hung up. Dealership has nothing to do with scam and would appreciate it if people would quite calling the number
Tina
August 28, 2019
Recieved a call supposedly from southeast LAPD (2139727828) confirming my name and transferring me to someone else. The guy had a really thick (Nepalese?) accent and seemed unprofessional and rushed to transfer me to give information so I got suspicious and hung up. They then called back 4 times back to back. No way police would harass people like that without leaving a message.
TRYINGTOSCAMME…
October 18, 2019
RECEVED THIS MESSAGE ON MY PHONE POSING AS FAKE CRA, IN TORONTO DOWNTOWN CANADA,UP SCALE AREA FROM THIS 1800 NUMBER: 1877-885-8848 US, TODAY OCT.18TH 2019,PRESS A NUMBER TO SPEAK TO AN AGENT, FOR A ARREST WARREN ISSUE I BELIEVE MONEY PAYMENT WOULD BE INVOLVED, THESE CRIMINALS ARE ROUNDED UP BY THE POLICE, AND SENT TO PRISON AND DEPORTED OUT OF THE COUNTRY, OR PUT IN PRISON AND BANNED FROM ENTERING SUCH AREAS, A SPECIAL TASKFORCE NEEDS TO BE FORMED FOR SUCH CRIMINALS TO REMOVE THEM OUT. POLICE PLEASE TAKE INTEREST TO DO YOUR JOB, THANKS
bhavya
October 31, 2019
i got a call from some number saying that "Did you call to police".i replied no and then she was saying "who made the call" and then disconnected. I didn't call any police or any other unknown number.And the before day i got a call from unknown number and he was speaking some other language which i couldn't understand , the only word i understood is he was mentioning something like "station".
Blairstown46
November 06, 2019
I got a call from someone stating his name and that he was with the American Police Officers Alliance. They wanted a donation of $15.00. I agreed, but they wanted to know for sure if I was going to donate the $15.00. I thought it a little strange, but went ahead. Then they switched me to someone to get my address. I could barely understand them, as they had a heavy foreign accent. I got the letter for donation, but feel it was a scam. I checked on line and the donation center for police officers is not in Wauwatpsa, WI. So I am reporting it and I will not send in any money.
Nav
November 11, 2019
Today i received 4 calls from +12263881186 this number. I didn't picked up and caller left the voicemail for money and treating me for get arrest.
Christey gillespie
January 02, 2020
What if you get a call from a supposed officer saying there are some legal documents that you need to sign for and the officer says hes coming to your residence if he cant reach you there he will come to your place of employment and then he says is you need more information call a 1 844 number and reference incident number x i didnt call or respond back and at the end of the voicemail he said i will see you very soon maam
Greg
July 09, 2020
I received a phone call earlier today from the "police" claiming they called my number stating it had been used as a contact for a prostitute. I don't ever use prostitutes and the first "officer" said I was not in trouble and had me wait to be connected to his "supervisor". This second man, the "supervisor", again said I was not in trouble but that my number had been identified as a contact for a prostitute. I did not remain on the call and hung up because I believe it to be scam call. They attempted to call me again several times from the same number but I did not answer. Would the police ever call and tell me something like this?
freedom
July 28, 2020

In reply to by Greg

I got a call with the same things said from an unknown caller. It was a local police department. They called multiple times after I hung up.
Please don't c…
August 12, 2020
Please don't click the link I get these almost every day they come from random phone numbers and when I block one number they come back
Rc2020
November 02, 2020
Phone call from scammer about ss number. And 1 from supposed local police
cinderella
February 08, 2021
I just got a call from someone impersonating a police officer telling me to call back on an important issue. I hung up.
Jury duty scam.
March 01, 2021
1-(206)-705-5245 Called and said I missed Jury duty and had a warrant out for my arrest. Was going to try and say I could pay a ticket over the phone but hung up when I asked for his badge number.
Louise
March 28, 2021
I received a call saying I owed them from a payday loan 5 years ago from a bank I never had a bank account with I had to pay so much by 2 that day I was upset told my son he said not to do it find out more info then they called again from sheriff office in a town close to me and said they will put me in jail if I didn't pay it nobody showed up
je5
March 29, 2021
540-467-5135 Police spoof scam
NecrochildK
June 04, 2021
JUST got one of these just now and was looking for where to report them. Of all things, it was a recorded message impersonating a police officer.
KirDon't use y…
September 03, 2021
So I met a guy his name is Ryan Cooper emigrated to states at 14 from Serbia with his mom, he’s an oil rig engineer , corrosive expert. He took a job in Arabian Sea still Skyped for hours everyday after and before work. The details were incredible . I FaceTime with him he sent photos with him in them from Rig etc. I had called him out once as a scammer he kept proving me wrong . I made it clear he would never see a penny. So leaving the rig I heard nothing for days until a man phoned saying he had been arrested for fracking in the Arabian Sea. I called him every name in the book including scammer. He claims he’s just trying to help RyN wanted him to reach me. I no longer answer the calls . They never asked for money and I did FaceTime with the rig scammer . I’m just baffled !!!
Disappointed
October 20, 2021

In reply to by KirDon't use y…

I met the same Ryan cooper except he claims he is in Australia on a job. From Serbia, has a son that lives with the mom. Supposedly owns his own company. Looking to retire early or whatever. He has a florida area code and uses WhatsApp. He will video call with you. He is gorgeous and has a cute accent. To good to be true always is. Talked to him for 2-3 days but knew the entire time. He started changing his tune once I started calling him out on it. Relationships are built on trust blah blah. His Whats app name is B Ryan Cp and the number is 305-809-6098.