Peter J. Koutoujian, sheriff

Police Chief Julie Flaherty is warning residents about a telephone scam in which a caller spoofed the police department's phone number.

A resident reported Thursday, Sept. 9, that a person had called and claimed that he was an officer from the Arlington Police Department. The caller told the resident that there was an ongoing investigation regarding false accounts opened with the resident's Social Security number. He demanded $8,000 in restitution from the resident or stated that an arrest warrant would be filed.

During this incident, the scammer spoofed the department's business line, 781-643-1212. Defined by the Federal Communications Commission, spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies caller-ID information to disguise their identity. Scammers often spoof local numbers or numbers from a company or agency people already know and trust.

2 different numbers

The resident received two additional calls from different phone numbers. Residents should note that one scammer in particular was reported to have a Middle Eastern accent and the physical location was most likely out of this country.

In a news release, Flaherty noted that bail or restitution is never picked up at someone’s house, through a livery service, nor is it requested via a wire service or prepaid debit cards. Police will also never call you to go to the police station to pay for a warrant. Similar scams are believed to be occurring in nearby communities as well.

"Fortunately, this resident did not arrange to give the money to the scammers and contacted police," Flaherty said in the release. "Residents should know that Arlington police officers will never call you demanding money.

“If you are doubtful or suspicious of a caller who claims to be from a government agency, it is recommended that you hang up and contact that agency directly to ensure the call was legitimate. Always be wary of callers who ask you for money or personal information over the phone, and contact police if you believe you have been scammed."Arlington police Department provided the following tips for residents to protect themselves from scams and fraud:

  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If in doubt, do not give out your information. Report anyone claiming to be a government worker to local police.
  • Do not give out your credit card information to someone calling over the phone.
  • Monitor incoming calls. Do not pick up unknown numbers or random calls. If a call is important, the caller will leave a message.
  • Know that even “local” numbers on caller ID may not be from a local caller.
  • If you do pick up and learn it is a scam call, do not engage. Just hang up.

The FCC also notes that if you get an inquiry from someone who says that he or she represents a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.

Anyone who has questions or feels as if they may have fallen victim to a scam should call police at 781-643-1212.

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This news announcement was published Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The writer is Leah Comins, who works for John Guilfoil Public Relations.