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Fraudsters pose as local law enforcement in an uptick of recent scam calls

Mother and El Paso County Sheriff's sergeant share warnings about these types of calls
Fraudsters pose as local law enforcement in recent scam calls
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 08:40:24-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We’re learning about an uptick in scam calls across the Pikes Peak Region messing with people’s emotions and trying to add credibility by posing as a member of law enforcement.

These callers are usually after money, but in some cases are now creating safety concerns. News5 has learned fraudsters are calling people in southern Colorado saying they are cops or that they’re calling on behalf of one of our local law enforcement agencies.

In this case, it started as a call from an unknown number.

”She seemed like a young girl around my daughter’s age hysterically crying saying 'mom' over and over again. My heart sank and I started to panic. I was like, 'are you ok?,'” Jenn told News5.

Concerned this might be her daughter, Jenn said suddenly another person got on the phone.

”She handed the phone to a man and he came on the line and calmly identified himself as a police officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department and said that my daughter was at a Walmart and had been robbed and they took her cell phone and some personal items,” Jenn said about her experience.

This Colorado Springs mom was skeptical as the man put the emotional girl back on the phone.

”I couldn’t get her to calm down and so at one point the voice didn’t sound like my daughter so I just said, 'ok, if you’re my daughter tell me your full name,'” Jenn said.

The girl couldn’t do it.

”She finally says 'mom it’s not the cops, it’s not the cops, it’s men, they are holding me and won’t let me go. They won’t let me leave.' So I said, 'I need you to tell me who you are' and then the line went dead,” Jenn said.

Jenn was able to quickly verify the girl on the phone was not her daughter, who was safe at work. Then, immediately followed up with CSPD and was told they’ve been getting reports of scam calls just like this.

She’s concerned these fraudsters are trying to lure someone to a location, or will try to demand money.

”That’s what’s scary is they know enough to make it believable enough,” said Jenn.

Sergeant Jason Garrett of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says fraudsters are even using his name.

”My name has made the rounds from scammers calling people locally and even as far away as Washington state claiming to be me saying they needed to send money or someone was going to come to their house and arrest them,” Sgt. Garrett said.

On top of those kinds of calls, now the sheriff’s office says someone is calling and claiming they are raising money for local law enforcement. It’s another lie.

”Instead of appealing to people’s fear, they are appealing to the good side of people that want to support law enforcement so it’s a bit of a change in tactic from these scammers,” said Sgt. Garrett.

Both Jenn and Sgt. Garret say they hope people will speak up when they get one of these calls so the proper warnings and investigations can take place.

”If there are patterns that can be followed up on they will be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and hopefully we can bring some accountability to the people who are doing it,” said Sgt. Garrett.

”With big data and everything out there they can access information through data leaks and different things where they can personalize it and make it more believable and more likely for you to fall prey to something. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” said Jenn.

If you want to avoid these kinds of calls the best advice is not to pick up calls from numbers you don’t know and remember you can always hang up and verify information with the authorities.

This type of scam is part of a practice called social engineering. According to anti-malware company Malwarebytes, "if cybercriminals use malware and viruses to hack our computers, then social engineering is how they hack our minds."

Learn more about social engineering.

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