Police: Beware of phone scammers claiming to be officers

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick residents are reportedly being contacted over the phone by people claiming to be city police officers — but the police department says it’s a scam.

According to Detective Capt. Ryan Sornberger, the callers are using names of specific officers and informing residents that they have warrants out for their arrest.

The scammers then tell the victim they can pay — in some cases, thousands of dollars — using gift cards and other forms of digital or cryptocurrency to settle their case.

Valerie Spicher tells Eyewitness News she received a phone call two weeks ago claiming to be from an officer.

The man claiming to be an officer told Spicher there was a warrant out for her arrest in Warwick and told her to pay up in pre-paid cards.

“The man said if you do not send the cards or money order we will arrest you,” Spicher said.

Sornberger said police are also seeing an increase in reports of other types of financial fraud where money is being demanded over the phone for computer support, online romances, or to help a family member who’s supposedly in jail.

“They’re impersonating specific police officers in the Warwick Police Department, identifying officers by name and then claiming there are some legal matters that have to be solved, and payments, sometimes thousands of dollars in various forms of currency, that they’re asking for over the phone. Something that we would never do,” Sornberger said.

Police do not make phone calls requesting payment of any kind, according to Sornberger, and if they have a warrant, they will come to you in person or ask you to come down to the station.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a Warwick police officer and seeking money or personal information, Sornberger says to simply hang up and contact police at (401) 468-4200.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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