FBI: Phone scammers claim to be university police

·2 min read

Apr. 28—VALDOSTA — If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with Valdosta State University Police demanding money to clear up fines or warrants, don't pay.

They're not really with VSU.

The FBI Atlanta bureau is warning the public about a phone scam where scammers are posing as university police, using "spoofed" law enforcement phone numbers and the names and positions of officers, according to an FBI bulletin. They're asking for payment in various forms to supposedly take care of outstanding warrants or fines.

The scam is targeting parents of students at Georgia universities, telling them the "warrants" and "fines" are against their kids, the FBI said.

VSU Police Department received the bulletin and the university is unaware of any reported incidents of fake callers using VSU's name, according to a statement from the university.

The FBI offered the following list of "red flags" to look out for related to this scam. — Calls supposedly from local law enforcement stating an individual has fines for outstanding warrants. — Calls supposedly from local law enforcement stating the court is holding the individual in contempt for failure to appear for jury duty. — Calls claiming an individual has been placed under a "gag order" and is not allowed to speak with anyone else regarding the matter. — Calls supposedly from local law enforcement demanding you remain on the line until the "bond" is paid. — Requests for gift cards (Visa, Green Dot, etc.), bank deposits and voucher purchases to clear court fines or avoid jail time. — Requests for videos or pictures of individuals conducting a personal strip search of themselves to clear court fines or avoid jail time.

If receiving a voicemail from law enforcement, demand a call back, do not respond, authorities said.

Instead, call the local police department's general phone number or go in person to verify the call. Law enforcement will never call a person regarding an arrest warrant for missing jury duty, nor will they ask anyone to send money for any reason, the FBI said.

People who may have been victims of this scam can contact FBI Atlanta at (770) 216-3000 and file a complaint with the FBI at www.IC3.gov.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.