Beware: Border Patrol package phone calls are scams

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        I got a phone call on Tuesday from the U.S. Border Patrol saying they had intercepted a package at the border being sent to me that contained contraband. This “contraband” was supposedly illegal drugs and cash. Of course, I knew instantly it was a scam.
        The week before, one of our sergeants got a similar call.
        Sometimes, the scammers claim they are from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the U.S. Treasury Department or some other federal law enforcement agency – but the scam is the same.
        The callers make threatening statements to the persons receiving the calls, telling them that if they don’t cooperate, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
        Of course, these threatening statements serve only one purpose—to shake up the person receiving the call to get them to send them money or buy gift cards to be given to the scammer.
        First of all, no federal law enforcement agency makes such phone calls. If it is a legitimate issue, they send a letter by regular U.S. mail. They will not tip off someone by making a phone call.
        It is human nature that when a law-abiding citizen gets a phone call from someone purporting to be a member of a federal law enforcement agency, it is concerning. When the caller makes threatening statements, this heightens the senses of the person receiving the call.
        When the scammer tells them they are about to be arrested, this has a tendency to make people shudder. Of course, this is a scary thought to most people, making them think they need to do whatever the caller tells them to stay out of jail.
        The scammers rely on this fear to get what they want – money and even personal information such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, and/or bank account numbers.
        During my call, I played along with this game as long as I could so that I could waste as much of the guy’s time as I could. This gets the scammers upset when they realize someone has wasted their time when they could be successful with other people. I don’t suggest anyone else try this. Just hang up.
        By the way, this caller had a foreign accent, which is common among scammers. These calls are usually generated from outside our country, but the number that shows up on the caller ID usually shows up as an American phone number.
        If you think you are being scammed, call your local law enforcement agency immediately. If you want more information on scams, please call me at 419-481-6354.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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