Scammer impersonating Gwinnett police officers, cops warn

Gwinnett County police say there’s been a “wave” of scam phone calls in the area, with callers claiming to be police officers.

One caller claimed to be Sgt. Jake Smith, a public information officer for the Gwinnett County Police Department, the real officer Smith said. The caller impersonating Smith spoofed a phone number associated with the department, making the call look like it was actually coming from police, and demanded Bitcoin from the person he called, Smith said.

Scammers have told victims and potential victims that a utility will be cut off if payment isn’t immediately received, that a relative has been arrested and needs money for bail and that immediate payment is needed for a ticket or warrant, and failure to pay will result in arrest, a department release said. Other phone scams include claiming to be the IRS and demanding payment of back taxes, a tax or “start-up” fee is required to receive a lottery or sweepstakes payout, and that a person will be deported if a payment isn’t made, police said.

A key indicator that these calls are scams is the way they demand payment, according to police. Scammers often ask for payment via a prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin) or cash sent through FedEx.

Agencies like the Gwinnett County Police Department and the IRS will never ask for payment over the phone. To report a phone scam, call Gwinnett County police at 770-513-5300.

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