The Albany Police Department is reporting a new scam that has its own phones ringing off the hook.
“We are being inundated with calls reporting scams,” said Police Department Crime Prevention Specialist Laura Hawkins, noting that the department is receiving up to 40 calls a day about it. And Hawkins warns that scammers have tools such a free app that can make it appear as if calls are coming from locations such as the Police Department or Albany City Hall.
In the latest scam, victims are told that there's been a warrant for their arrest that's been issued by the Police Department. The scammers then request personal information and money to avoid arrest.
Callers are told that their Social Security benefits may be suspended until they clear up an outstanding warrant. Should a potential victim question the call, the scammers reply that they'll be arrested within 24 hours if they do not pay a specified fee.
“This latest twist,” Hawkins said, “is when people don’t believe them, they tell them ‘Fine, we’ll have Albany police call you directly.’” The victim then receives a call from a number that appears to come from the local department.
Hawkins said the scams work by creating a sense of urgency. But, she said, the Albany Police Department does not call individuals to inform them of arrest warrants. In fact, Hawkins said, if someone were to call the department to inquire about a warrant status, staff members do not give that information out over the phone.
“We ask them to come in person and check and we will gladly tell them if they have a warrant,” she said.
Residents are reminded not to volunteer personal information over the phone unless they're familiar with the caller. City officials will not request immediate payment over the phone in lieu of forgoing arrest.