Tis the season for scammers looking for some quick holiday cash.
Lakeland police, as well as Plant City police, are investigating after receiving complaints from several residents who received a phone call from an officer saying it was an emergency and asked them to call a certain number back.
The caller then falsely accuses them of crimes, trying to lure them into transferring funds that likely cannot be recovered.
“One call said that they were to testify as an expert witness and they did not show up so there’s a fine. And the subpoena was signed by the honorable Judge Giddens. Of course they’re trying to say Chief Giddens of the Lakeland Police Department,” Lakeland Police Public Information Officer Gary Gross said.
There are several variations of the scam, such as the callers making accusations of missed jury duty, tax liens and warrants for your arrest.
Gross tells 8 On Your Side he was even a victim of the impersonations.
“It is very frustrating. I’m a lifelong resident of Lakeland, and then I start getting phone calls, returning phone calls at work, emails, and I I feel like a victim like everybody else. I’m frustrated and upset,” he said.
Lakeland police caution, if you get a call, hang up. Never give your credit card number or bank routing number out over the phone.
They also warn that scammers often use “spoofed” numbers, making it appear that they are calling from your local sheriff’s office or police department.
If you have any concerns, call your local police department. If you suspect you received a scam phone call, you can also contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or 202-326-2222.