If the phone rings and the person on the other end claims to be from a law enforcement agency saying you missed jury duty and need to pay a fine or face arrest, immediately hang up.
That’s the recommendation of the Cypress Police Department, which is warning residents about this and other similar aggressive phone scams.
Scammers posing as law enforcement employees are calling residents and spinning a convincing tale of missed civic duty to coerce payment using Green Dot MoneyPak cards.
MoneyPak cards are reloadable debit cards, often used to pay bills, that can be purchased at various retailers.
The scam artists tell their victims they need to prove they have sufficient funds to cover fines and penalties by depositing money to the MoneyPak cards.
Once partial to wire services to solicit cash from their victims, scam artists now are using MoneyPak cards because this method is lesser-known and less traceable, police said.
“These scam artists are very convincing and extremely intimidating,” said Cypress Cmdr. Rod Cox. “It’s important for residents to know a law enforcement agency would never ask for payment information, in any form, over the phone.”
In another type of phone scam, individuals are posing as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service and trying to convince victims they owe money.
IRS officials reported immigrants often are the target of this scheme, and usually are threatened with deportation or arrest.
According to the IRS, scammers may use fake IRS badge numbers, have knowledge of the last four digits of the victim’s social security number or may send bogus IRS emails, among other ploys.
IRS officials also will never ask for payment information over the phone.
Cypress police officials said there are other similar telephone scams residents should be aware of, including callers who claim:
– You won the lottery, but must pay a cash advance to collect your winnings.
– Your utilities will be shut off, and the bill must be paid using gift cards.
– A family member needs help and is requesting gift cards.
– An officer or sheriff claims there is a warrant out for your arrest
A resident who suspects he or she may have been a victim of these or other similar scams should call the Cypress Police Department at 714-229-6600.