Virginia State Police are warning residents of the commonwealth about an increase in phone scams targeting at the elderly and sex offenders that have tricked some recipients into paying hundreds of dollars, often in gift cards.
One common scam is for a caller to claim that a relative of the victim has been arrested and needs money to be released, state police said. These callers can be very persuasive by having information such as birthdays, family names and addresses to provide as evidence.
Scammers also are targeting sex offenders, state police said. In this scam, a caller will tell a sex offender that a warrant has been issued for their arrest and that the only way to take of it is to pay a fine. In addition to asking for money, the caller also warns the victim not to contact state police.
In both scams the caller will give instructions on how to submit payment, typical through an eGift cash card or similar payment methods. Often the scammer will use pressure, threats and verbal abuse to intimidate their victims, state police said.
In addition, scammers commonly manipulate their caller ID to make victims believe calls are coming from a local number, state police said. Scammers often use prepaid phones and typically are not anywhere near the area they are calling.
State police urge anyone receiving one of the calls to contact their law enforcement.
Victims also can file a complaint by contacting the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.