JOHNSTON, Iowa – A scam involving an online dating website has Johnston Police warning residents about calls from someone fraudulently claiming to be a Johnston police officer.
Police say the scammers are using the dating service “Plenty of Fish” to find targets of the imposter scam. They first pose as a member of the site and then contact users directly, using phone numbers they’ve obtained on the site.
The scammers try to get money from users while impersonating a member of the Johnston Police Department, often threatening to press charges if they aren’t paid. The threat of violence is also used.
“Calls threatening you or asking for money are flat-out scams,” said Johnston Police Chief, Dennis McDaniel. “These scammers steal the names of real agency personnel solely to scare you into paying them. While the scammers may change up the phone numbers, they are calling from; they are calling for one mission, to get you to share your account information, or send money.”
Johnston police say the scam may come in more than one call, with the first coming from 515-236-2662 and a second call from 314-207-6435.
Police are offering tips to avoid being scammed:
- Don’t trust caller ID readings – scammers often spoof names and numbers to make them appear like a local caller.
- Let numbers you do not recognize go directly to voicemail. And do not call unknown numbers back.
- Hang up on anyone who threatens you with arrest, legal action, or seizure of your accounts.
- Do not converse with anyone online that you do not know, and certainly do not share any personal photos of yourself.
- Hang up if anyone directs you to pay using store gift cards, money wires or mailed cash. These are often used because they are difficult to trace.
Contact the Johnston Police Department at 515-278-2345 if you do receive a scam call.
DES MOINES, Iowa — We have all gotten those strange phone calls from someone saying they are from the government, or calls saying you won a cruise, then they asking for money. These are called imposter scams and are becoming more and more frequent.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office said the number of imposter scams doubled from 2017 to 2018 and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down any time soon.
“We have found that there have been reports that in the next few years almost 40 to 50 percent of calls that you receive at home will be a scam call,” Iowa Attorney General’s Office Investigator Al Perales said.
But it doesn’t have to just be a phone call, scams come in all shapes and sizes. It can be a knock on the door, a text, an email and in each instance, the scammer will create a very strong and very urgent situation.
“If you’re ever confronted with a situation where there is fear, there is excitement or a situation that is pulling at your heartstrings and they are asking for money right now, it’s definitely a scam,” Perales said.
He said we are seeing an influx in scams of all forms because of technology. Social media and the internet mean people are more available and more accessible. And as people begin to recognize and avoid scams, scammers are staying one step ahead, finding ways around roadblocks like caller I.D. These days, caller I.D. is not valid, so you do not have to answer a call just because it has your same area code. In this instance, it’s okay to not be “Iowa nice.”
“If you do not recognize the call, I always tell people, if it’s not your brother Bobby, if it’s not your sister Suzie if it’s not Dr. Anderson’s office don’t answer the call, just don’t answer it. And if you accidentally answer it just hang up, I’m not interested and hang up, because many times, more often than not, it’s going to be a scam call,” Perales said.
If you do end up falling victim to a scam and sending someone money, it is important to act quickly so you can get that money back. Call your bank and credit card company and call the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at 888-777-4590 or their office number at 515-281-5926.
Click here for more tips on how to protect yourself from scammers.
DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller are partnering for the first time to educate Iowans about protecting themselves from fraud.
‘SCAMWATCH: Protecting Vulnerable Iowans From Fraudsters’ focuses on providing different ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim to a scam. The event focuses on veterans and seniors.
According to the Iowa Attorney General’s office, last year complaints for imposter scams doubled.
An imposter scam is when a scammer impersonates someone either over the phone, online or through email and tries to get personal information using an urgent problem.
Deputy Iowa Attorney General Nathan Blake said, “Take a moment to think about opportunities when they are presented to you, and just think is this a scam. To think twice, and do a little bit of research before they jump in to any sort of business opportunity that’s kind of handed to them.”
Blake said anyone can fall victim to an imposter scam, but they are most popular among seniors and veterans.
A red flag it might be a scam can be someone asking for your information like a Social Security number over the phone. Also when people ask to wire money to an off shore account or make payments through gift cards.
This past February, Representative Cindy Axne sponsored a bill that passed in the U.S. House to help crack down on criminals who try to steal money from veterans. It is called ‘Preventing Crimes Against Veteran’s Act.’ It is now in the U.S. Senate waiting for approval.
“Some entities who charge a lot of money to veterans to get veterans’ benefits. Well, that is illegal under federal law. Representative Axne, helped sponsor, pass some legislation at the federal level that made it clearer that you can’t do that,” Blake said.
Blake said it is also illegal at the state level here in Iowa.
Other topics at the forum include: dealing with telemarketers, credit card fraud, phishing scams and elder abuse.
The forum begins Thursday at 1:00 p.m. It is located at Northwest Community Center at 5110 Franklin Avenue, Des Moines.
The forum is free and open to the public.