Phone scam tricks over $1 million from Montgomery Co. residents

About 20 people in Maryland’s Montgomery County have sent nearly $1.5 million to phone scammers since summer, and police don’t want anyone else to fall for the scam.

Scammers making calls telling people to pay bogus fines are claiming to be with the Montgomery County Police Department. They lure victims by stating there’s an arrest warrant for them and pressure the victims to pay a fine via gift cards, wire transfers or mail, according to the real Montgomery County police.

Scammers tell victims they could pay a fine or assist law enforcement in clearing their names by obtaining gift cards from retail stores or purchasing Bitcoin and providing those codes over phone or text message.

The scammers stress payment is needed immediately and that due to the secret nature of the investigation, the victim could not tell anyone, or the victim would be arrested.

An example of the scam calls.

But police said “under no circumstances will Montgomery County Police Department personnel ask residents for their credit card information or instruct them to wire or send money on a prepaid card.”

The police department added it will “never tell residents that they can pay a fine over the phone, by text message, or by sending cash by U.S. Mail, FedEx, UPS, or any other delivery service.”

Police said detectives with the department’s fraud unit “have been investigating multiple reports of scammers texting or calling county residents and identifying themselves as either local or federal law enforcement officials” since June.

Montgomery County police urge anyone that receive these scam calls to hang up and contact the police nonemergency number at 301-279-8000 to file a report.

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