Never ever trust a cop who's trying to shake you down for money.
San Francisco police are warning that they're out there -- faux cops who are calling up innocent residents and demanding payment for parking tickets and overdue loans, said Officer Gordon Shyy.
Here's how it's working:
In the unpaid loan scam, the caller/crook identifies himself as a police officer, stating that he is acting on behalf of "Mark Rothman & Associates." The caller claims that unless he gets "interim payment" for outstanding debt, criminal proceedings will begin, starting with a bench warrant for their arrest.
The caller instructs the victim to purchase a $500 Green Dot MoneyPak or Vanilla Gift card or some kind of cash-load card as payment. Once that's done, they are told to call a specific number and give the card information to whoever picks up the phone on the other end. In return, a phony proof-of-payment email is sent to the duped resident and the $500 is quickly spent, probably on their own traffic tickets and a few bags of Cheetos.
In the unpaid traffic ticket scam, the caller also claims to be a San Francisco cop, going as far as to use the name of an actual breathing, real-life SFPD officer. The caller claims the resident owes $154 or more for unpaid traffic/parking tickets and that a bench warrant will be issued unless payment is received. They instruct the resident to get payment to the SFPD via the same operation: a cash-load card, Shyy said.
Just so you know, the police department has confirmed that it never contacts citizens for payment under any circumstances, including for outstanding traffic citations or for any civil debt. They leave that job to the collection agencies.
Having said all that, don't ever provide any card number or security clearance codes to a caller or an email. Just don't.
Also, now might be a good time to go pay your traffic tickets.