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Police scam caller meets real police in Tracy

TRACY — A scam caller posing as law enforcement found himself talking to a real police officer, after an area resident went to the Tracy Police.

Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty said earlier this week, an area resident came to his office, cell phone in hand. The number on their caller ID was the Tracy Police Department, but the person on the other end of the line was asking for money to pay for non-existent fines.

“The scammer actually talked (the resident) into walking into the Dollar General and purchasing an Apple card to pay his quote-unquote fines,” Lichty said. However, both the resident and staff at the Dollar General in Tracy wondered whether the call was legitimate.

The resident went to the Tracy PD’s office, and Lichty got on the phone with the scammer.

“He didn’t want to talk to me. I didn’t have much kind to say,” Lichty said. The scammer hung up.

Lichty shared the story on the Tracy PD’s Facebook page on Tuesday, along with information on how to recognize a scam call. Lichty said law enforcement does not call people to warn them that there is a warrant out for their arrest. The police also will not call asking for gift cards or Apple cards as payment for fines, Lichty said.

“It’s the same with I.R.S. scams, too,” he said. While it might be a common scam, the real I.R.S. will not demand money or gift cards over the phone.

Another thing to remember is that scammers may try to get past caller ID by disguising the phone number they are calling from. They may “spoof” local numbers in an attempt to get you to pick up the call. “I’ve had my own cell phone number call me,” Lichty said. The scam caller in this week’s incident was spoofing the Tracy PD’s phone number.

Unfortunately, scam phone calls aren’t just a problem for Tracy area residents. “I think this kind of thing is happening all over,” Lichty said.

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