State Police: Scammers Posing as Law Enforcement

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- State police want consumers to be aware of two new hoaxes that are hitting the region, both of which involve scammers posing as law enforcement.

"Not any law enforcement agency that I'm aware of would be soliciting money either over the phone or on the computer," West Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

One of the scams is actually a computer virus that comes as a pop-up on your screen. You'll get a message claiming to be from the FBI that accuses you of criminal activity.

It will freeze your computer and tell you that you need to pay to access your machine again, but troopers say don't believe it.

"Run your antivirus software ... get a reputable company to take a look at the computer if necessary," Baylous said. "But absolutely do not send any money."

Police say you could also be scammed in the form of a phone call. They say thieves will call you claiming to be a cop and tell you that a loved one is in trouble -- either in an accident or stuck in jail.

They'll ask you to send money for help or bail -- but again, it's all a hoax. Baylous says the strong family values of West Virginia can make local people more susceptible to this scam.

"When you get a call that a family member is in need of assistance, you're going to do whatever you can to help them out," he said. "But we want to caution everybody not to send money like that. Especially if they want you to wire it by Western Union."

Police say if you're contacted by someone claiming to be with law enforcement, it's a good idea to do your homework. Ask what agency that person is from and then independently call the agency to verify the person's identity.

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