The Kodiak Police Department is warning locals about an increase in scam calls from people claiming to be representatives from the U.S. Marshal’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.
It’s a type of scam that the FBI defines as “government impersonation fraud.” According to the FBI, Alaskans across the state have been getting phony calls from individuals claiming to be a deputy U.S. Marshal.
KPD’s Lieutenant Francis de la Fuente reported receiving 14 calls last Friday from Kodiak locals saying that they had received such calls.
Many more people posted on public Facebook groups saying they received calls from Alaska’s 907 area code during which the scammers claimed to be from different state agencies.
The callers reportedly threatened people with legal action and requested personal information.
"The scammers are just getting better and better because everyone is receiving the stimulus check," De la Fuente said, adding that computers can mimic local phone numbers. "Be aware of them. No law enforcement and government agency would ask people for information over the phone.”
He advised people to verify the call by checking with the specific agency that the call was allegedly from.
De la Fuente said some of the scammers reportedly told residents that there was a warrant for their arrest. He said that if local law enforcement had a warrant, they would knock on the person’s door and contact them in person.
The Fairbanks Police Department also warned local residents about an increase in scam phone calls.
Teal Soden, communications director for the city of Fairbanks, explained that a common script is that the individual’s name came up in the course of an investigation, but the caller is “willing to take care of it” if the individual pays. For example, callers tell people that they have missed federal jury duty or have a warrant out for their arrest. The caller then asks for personal information — such as a bank account number — or payment for the warrant in order to avoid arrest.
“These calls are scams so please do not provide the caller any personal or financial information,” the Fairbanks Police Department wrote in a warning posted to its Facebook page on Monday. Soden emphasized that actual law enforcement agencies would never ask an individual to pay over the phone.
"To protect yourself from this scam, be wary of answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize. If you answer the call, hang up. Do not send money to anybody that you do not personally know and trust," Chloe Martin from the FBI’s Anchorage office said in a statement.
While anyone can receive these calls, Soden said the most common victims are older people. She encouraged people to speak with elderly relatives to warn them. Unless an individual has actually fallen for the scam and given money or information, Soden said that FPD prefers that people not call the department. She explained that the high number of calls can jam up the dispatch line, so dispatchers may not be able to quickly report emergencies.
Instead, people should report calls directly to the Federal Trade Commission at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov. — Maisie Thomas is a reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner