Police are warning about a new twist on an old con game that is making its way through the region.
Scott County law enforcement officials said within the past few weeks there have been reports about telephone calls from people claiming to be private investigators trying to get payment for a loan taken out by family member.
“These ‘investigators’ claim that you or a member of your family have taken out a loan or incurred some other debt in the recent past and that payment on that obligation is past due,” according to a statement from the office of State’s Attorney Michael L. Hill and the county sheriff’s department.
The caller usually has some personal information about the person contacted, such as address, names of relatives or even details about banking history.
The fake investigator will try to convince the person contacted that a payment must be made immediately or an arrest warrant will be issued by law enforcement authorities. The scam artist might even provide a phone number or website that appear to be legitimate.
“Remember, local law enforcement does not issue arrest warrants. Only a judge in a court of law can do that,” according to the statement. “Also, a debt owed is a civil obligation, not a criminal matter. In order to progress to the point that a civil arrest warrant would be issued by a judge, you would have received ample notice from a court of law that there are debt collection proceedings against you. You also would have been afforded the ability to appear in court to defend yourself before any warrant would be issued.”
Anyone making such claim should be asked to verifiable documentation that the debt even exists, and personal information should never be divulged without being certain a debt is owed.
“Remember, the details that the caller may give you regarding bank accounts, addresses and names is all information that can be attained with little work on the part of the scam artists and that a 12-year-old with a computer can create a website that looks official,” the agencies cautioned.
Those who believe they have been victimized by such a caller can contact their local law enforcement agency.
The FBI says variations on these types of calls have been reported since 2010 and anyone who receives such a call should alert their banking institutions and the three major credit bureaus to request an alert be placed on their accounts against any unusual activity.
In addition to contacting local law enforcement authorities, complaints can be filed at the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.