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Va. State Police warn of phone scams aimed at registered sex offenders

The Virginia State Police has recently been alerted to an alarming increase in phone scams targeting convicted sex offenders.

The consistent theme among these scams has been phone fraudsters portraying themselves as a Virginia State Police sergeant and threatening the individuals into paying hundreds of dollars in gift cards to the caller.
The Virginia State Police are also getting numerous calls from convicted sex offenders in the metro-Richmond region who are being told there is a warrant out for their arrest.

The sex offender is advised not to call the Virginia State Police and is told that the only way to adjudicate the warrant is by paying off a fine.

Virginia law prohibits unlawful use of the information provided on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry for purposes of intimidating or harassing an individual listed on the registry. Willful violation shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The scammer provides instruction on how the payment should be submitted, usually through an “eGift” cash card or similar payment to a specified account or name given by the caller. The scammer will often pressure, threaten and be verbally abusive in order to intimidate the victim into complying with the scammer’s demands.

The scammer will often manipulate caller ID, which is known as “spoofing,” to make the number appear to come from a nearby state police office or a local police or sheriff’s office. These scam artists use prepaid phones and many times are not even in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, making their apprehension difficult.

According to Sgt. Dylan Davenport, public information officer for Virginia State Police, State and local law enforcement will not call an individual to request payment of a fine or for a warrant. If you receive such a call, hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency or the Virginia State Police.

Complaints can also be made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which works with other law enforcement agencies to bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices. If you have a complaint, file it online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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