Phone scammers are impersonating local police

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Phone scammers are exploiting locals by disguising themselves as the police.  

A phone displays Apple Pay. Scammers sometimes use apps like this to get money from victims.
Scammers often pose as trusted figures to trick people into sending them money. [Jenny Kane | AP]
The Athens Police Department reported the callers used the identities of officers and told people they had outstanding warrants and requested that they pay legal fees.  

Athens Police Chief Nick Magruder noted that calls like these have happened before, but the circumstances of the latest calls were unique. 

“This is the first time in that situation where someone’s actually used one of our officers’ real names,” Magruder said. “They use our phone number quite a bit and spoof the number to try and get people to pay money for a warrant or something like that, and that’s something we would never do.” 

Magruder said one individual in particular noticed something was off with the call and reported it to a prosecutor, effectively alerting the department of the issue. 

The department has filed police reports on the matter, he said, but they are very difficult to investigate. 

“Most of the time these scams are happening overseas, which is very hard to track,” Magruder said. 

The Nelsonville Police Department reported the scam callers were posing as people in the department and asking the public for donations. 

The department suggests that if money is lost from a fraud call, individuals should report to the Federal Trade Commission or visit to report calls where no money is lost.