Police are warning residents of a phone scam in which scammers identify themselves as law enforcement from either the Durango Police Department or the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office in an attempt to dupe victims out of money.
The callers sometimes use the last names of officers currently working for the police department or the Sheriff’s Office, according to a news release issued this week by DPD.
The scam involves informing the victim that he or she has missed a court date or a court-mandated appointment. The scammer will have information about the victim, such as a phone number, address or place of employment, and will use that information to make it appear as a legitimate call, according to DPD.
In most cases, the scammer will tell the victim he or she must pay a fine to rectify the situation. The scammer will direct the victim to obtain “vouchers” that come in the form of prepaid gift cards that must be purchased from Walmart, Office Depot or similar stores. After the money is loaded to the card, the scammer will get the PIN number for the gift card from the victim, which allows that person to access the money. Resistance by the victim may result in threats of arrest or worse, according to the release.
The Durango Police Department has received about 10 reports of the scam, including three people who went to purchase gift cards, said Cmdr. Ray Shupe, spokesman with the DPD. Cashiers stopped at least two of the potential victims from going through with the purchases, he said, but one person did buy the gift cards. That person was able to return them for a refund, he said.
“Legitimate law enforcement agencies do not, and never will, resort to the methods that scammers rely on for missing court dates or court-mandated appointments,” the release said.
Residents are advised to remain vigilant and not to give out any personal information. Victims of the scam should call nonemergency dispatch at 385-2900.