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Greensburg police warn of scam spoofing law enforcement phone numbers

Greensburg police warn of scam spoofing law enforcement phone numbers
Greensburg police warn of scam spoofing law enforcement phone numbers 02:42

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- A rash of elaborate scam phone calls are making their way through Westmoreland County and throughout the region.

The City of Greensburg Police Department is warning residents about calls going around where your local police or sheriff's department number may pop up on your caller ID with the caller on the other end impersonating the police.

"They are able to, what we call spoofing of phone numbers. So, they're able to call from a number that looks like it's actually being the legitimate number from a police department or sheriff's department and they're masking themselves as law enforcement and telling people that they owe money," said Detective Sergeant Justin Scalzo with the City of Greensburg Police Department.

This week, Scalzo said a local woman got a phone call saying she owed money because she missed jury duty.

"They talked to a female victim and said that she was owed money because she missed jury duty and that she had to pay a sum of $1,400 but she can only pay it in Bitcoin. They were very believable," Scalzo said.

They said the caller ID showed up as a local police department. In some cases, the caller will even know police officer's real names from the department to trick you.

"In this most recent scam, they were actually able to provide the victim with names of law enforcement that actually work in this county, and they most likely get those off of public websites," Scalzo said. "They know police. They sound like police officers, from what the victims will say, they have the same kind of terminology that maybe a police officer would use."

From there, Scalzo said the victim was told to withdraw cash and send cryptocurrency to a wallet address.

"What they'll instruct the victims to do is, they'll have them withdraw cash out of their bank account, and then go to someplace that has a Coinstar machine. What the scammers will then do then is have them send the cryptocurrency to a specific wallet address. That wallet address is then into the scammers' personal cryptocurrency wallet, they'll then offload it onto a cryptocurrency exchange, thus stealing your money," Scalzo said.

He said the wallets are "unknown wallets" and make the cases difficult to investigate.

"What victims need to be aware of is no police officer should be asking for any payment of any type any cash any cryptocurrency because you have an outstanding warrant," Scalzo said.

He said the first red flag if you get a call is to know that police officers will not call and say you owe money or ask for cryptocurrency.

Police said if you believe you've been scammed, you should contact your local police immediately.

"If you believe you're being scammed the best thing to do is physically drive to your local police department or sheriff's office and see what you can work out," Scalzo said. "The biggest red flag and all of this is converting, taking cash out of your personal bank account, converting it into cryptocurrency and then sending it to an unknown wallet address. That's the biggest red flag and the takeaway from all of this."

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