SCAM ARTISTS: Pretending To Be Police Officers

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Police say they're one of the hardest types of suspects to catch; scam artists who are after your money.

Local law enforcement said they handle scam reports on a weekly basis but this time, Des Moines Police continue to investigate a scam artist who claims to be one of their own.

Des Moines residents “Bud” and “Kay” say they were convinced they owed money to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after they called Friday afternoon.

Lt. Lawrence Willis called the couple, claiming he worked for the Sheriff's Office. He said they had missed a court hearing for a traffic violation, owing $500 that needed to be paid to him immediately over the phone but using a money card. “Bud” and “Kay” believed him.

“By then I already had the money out of the credit union and I was on my way to buy this money card.”

They called the Sheriff's Office before handing over the money. According the Sheriff's Office, no one by the name of Lt. Willis works for them. However, Des Moines police say scammers do a good job at making people believe they work for legitimate agencies.

“These folks have methods where they can fake caller IDs, so it may appear as though the Des Moines Police or the Polk County Sheriff's Office are actually calling but that isn't the case.”

Half a dozen people: young and old, even businesses, have fallen victim to the scam just this week.

Police say if you get a suspicious call, hang up the phone and call the agency the scam artist claims they work for. If something still seems suspicious, call police.

Police say another way to know if this type of phone call is phony is that law enforcement doesn’t follow up on ticket violations. If you were to owe a fine, you would get a call from the court system.

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