LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A thief is pretending to be Lakeland’s top cop, threatening to arrest people if they don’t fork over money.

The real police chief says it would never happen that way.

“No law enforcement agency will ever call you and ask you for money,” said Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor. “Any sort of a cash app or PayPal or anything like that. That’s not the way it’s done so please, do not ever send anybody who claims to be the police department or city money over any sort of social media.”

Dozens of people have called police and said a “Josh Lewis” is contacting them, claiming to be the interim police chief.

The hustler says there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest and they can pay money to get rid of the warrant.

“That’s what they’re looking for is folks they can convince to give them the money,” said Chief Taylor. “And I’m quite sure that the folks they can convince to give them money probably don’t have the means to afford whatever money they can give them. That’s the sad part about it.”

Maria Pope, who lives in Lakeland and encounters fraud victims often in her job in retail, said a scheme like this would be obvious to her since law enforcement does not serve warrants this way.

“They would literally come and serve you the papers or you could do your due diligence and look it up online,” she said.

Anyone who is suspicious of any call, email or text message should immediately call law enforcement.

Lakeland police can be reached at 863-834-6900.