NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Police are warning residents of a scam involving fake arrest warrants. Police say the thieves are getting clever in their scheme.
The victims are targeted with an email and an unofficial warrant showing a logo of an unspecified ‘United States District Court,’ along with a case number and a list of charges. The email often includes the victim’s name, last four digits of their social security number and other private information. Officials say the information is likely obtained through a data breach.
Police say the victims are instructed to call a number to get a settlement or are asked to wire money in order to avoid an arrest. The fake warrants can be for various offenses, including but not limited to bank fraud or missed jury duty.
Newport News detective Dinah Balthis says Americans have paid millions of dollars to these scammers.
“Even the email is threatening, saying we reserve the right to inform the FBI, The FTC and your employer for bank fraud,” said Balthis. “Lo and behold it’s a scam and they’ve lost their money.”
Once the recipient calls the number, the scammer gives the victim two options. Option one includes pay $13,000, hiring an attorney and going before a jury. The other option given includes paying the scammer about $700. Officials say the amount of money varies depending on the victim.
Detective Balthis says it is important to look at the fine print on the document. Often times the fake warrant includes poor grammar and misspelled words, which is a clear indication the warrant is a fake.
She says the calls are likely coming from people overseas.
“They use voice over IP. They could be anywhere in the world. They could be sitting in an office in London, or they could be somewhere in the desert in Pakistan or India,” said Balthis.
This investigation is continuing and deputies are trying to trace the fake numbers used in the scam.Until they do…they want the word out to the public.
Detective Balthis says police departments will never send an arrest warrant by email. She also says if you get an email asking you to call the number listed, don’t call. You don’t want these scammers knowing your number is a legitimate one because often times, they’ll sell your number to other scammers.
“A lot of this is overseas. So if we can’t do anything immediately and locally, what we can do is get them out to the folks and the citizens and make them aware that this is a scam so they don’t lose their resources,” said Balthis.