A 51-year-old St. Louis man lost thousands of dollars when a scammer pretended to be a law enforcement officer and threatened him with arrest, police say.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is warning folks to keep an eye out for this kind of scheme -- and reminding residents that officers will never ask for payments over the telephone.
The department says that a male caller who identified himself as an officer called the victim and told him there was a warrant for his arrest over owed back taxes. Unless a payment was made "immediately," the caller reportedly said, he would be arrested by the sheriff's department.
At this point, the caller gave a telephone number for the man to call of the "attorney handling the tax case."
Another male then instructed him to purchase Money Pack cards in the amount of $8,000 to make the payments. Once the cards were purchased, he was instructed to call back and provide the numbers from the Money Pack cards.
He was then told that the warrant for his arrest no longer was active.
Afterward, the victim was skeptical about what had happened, police say, and immediately contacted police to ask about it.
The subsequent investigation revealed that he was, in fact, the victim of a scam.
The suspects are still at large, police say, though the department has no knowledge of any similar incidents at this time.
Police say that if you have been a victim of this scam, you should call 911 to report it.
The department adds in a news release:
Law enforcement officers will never ask for payment over the telephone. If you receive a phone call from a caller identifying themselves as a law enforcement officer and they ask for an immediate payment over the telephone, call 911. The department urges citizens to verify the caller's identity and purpose for calling before releasing any personal information over the telephone.