Crime Prevention Tips of the Week (1/28/2021)

January 28, 2021

As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, you may be feeling some extra love in the air. Your most recent online interaction might feel like love at first swipe.

But beware, while it may seem like a great time for romance, it’s also an opportune time for romance scams.

officer

Beware of an "officer" or "dad" calling on behalf of the person you met online and demanding money:

Recently, two victims reported they received a phone call from someone claiming to be an officer at the Boise Police Department. They even used the name of a real officer currently working at BPD. On both occasions, the “officer” told the victims they had been talking to underage females online and their parents called the police. The “officer” then made a deal with the victim and tried to get them to pay for a new phone for the underage females instead of charges. The scammer provided the victim with Boise Police records phone number to verify his identity.

This is a common scam that has run nationwide daily for the last three to four years. Scammers use media releases, social media, or online searches to locate a current investigator at the local police department so they can make their claim seem more real.  They rely on victims doing a quick search for the officer’s name to verify their employment.

  • If they ask for money, hang up. No one from the Boise Police Department, or any legitimate agency would ever demand money from you. If an officer is investigating you for a crime, there’s no paying your way out of it.
  • If you’re unsure, don’t take immediate action. If you call the Boise Police Department to verify the caller’s identity and employment status, you should also let the person you’re speaking to know why you’re calling. In one of the recent cases, our records department did receive a call from the victim. They then sent the real officer an email explaining the situation. That officer was able to reach out to the victim, prior to any money being sent.
Pay

Beware of online and long distance relationships where you've never met the person and they start asking you to pay for stuff. Love can be blind:

A local victim was scammed for several months by someone he met online. They started talking over Instagram and then moved to another website. The scammer claimed to be a woman living in Georgia. Over the course of their texting relationship the victim sent the woman more than $6,000 in gift cards. The scammer gave the victim various reasons for needing the money and asked the victim to take pictures of the cards so she could cash them. He began to notice the gift cards were being cashed in several states. When the victim stopped sending money, the scammer threatened to post nude photos of the victim online and send them to his family. The victim made contact with police and has blocked the suspect.

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions. Do some research. Look for the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Be suspicious of excuses. Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Hold on to your money. Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
text

Beware of sending explicit pictures to anyone you meet online. They could be used to extort you:

In a recent case, a victim began receiving Facebook messages from someone claiming to be a 22-year-old woman. At some point in the conversation the victim was asked to have a sexual interaction over a video call and they agreed. The suspect then told the victim that they had recorded the video call. The suspect claimed to be a minor and threatened to post the on social media, unless the victim paid them $2,500. The suspect continued to contact the victim through text and over social media. The victim contacted police, blocked the suspect and reported the page.

  • Don’t share sensitive information, photos, or videos. The person you’re communicating with may not be who they say they are. Even if they do fit the description, you don’t know their true intentions. Despite any conversations you have had with them, they are still a stranger. Don’t show them anything or share anything you wouldn’t want in the hands of a complete stranger.
  • Call the police. Extortion is a crime. While the suspect may make threats or claims that you’re going to get in trouble, ultimately they are the one committing a crime.

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

(208) 570-6180 | BPDMedialine@cityofboise.org

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