Police Department

Posted on: June 14, 2017

Urgent Scam Awareness

The City of West University Place Police Department is investigating several telephone scams recently that need to be brought to the public’s attention. There are numerous ways these scams are perpetrated, and the scammers themselves are usually very convincing when committing this crime. Keep in mind, that no government agency, local, state or federal, will contact anyone by telephone and ask for payment for anything using prepaid gift cards. 

The following are some examples of the types of scams and fraudulent activity we are currently investigating:

  • A resident received a telephone call from a caller saying that they represent the “Harris County Court System” and the resident has missed jury duty and they owed close to $2,000 for court costs and warrant fees. The suspect convinced the victim that if they did not go to various locations to purchase “Green Dot” cards and forward the numbers on the back to pay his “fine”, a warrant would then be issued for their arrest.
  • A resident was contacted by phone and told that they owed close to $20,000 in back taxes to the IRS. That resident was convinced to travel to various GameStop and Best Buy stores and purchase gaming gift cards and forward the numbers on the back of the cards to the caller to settle the debt.
  • Another resident was victimized by a different and more technical scam. The resident received a pop-up on her computer that appeared to be from Microsoft and clicked “Yes” to download the program. What followed was a series of contacts from a “tech” telling the victim that her computer was hacked and $300 should fix it. The victim allowed the “tech” to use a remote device and take control of the computer and provided a telephone contact number. The victim was then contacted several times by several other scammers and was told that an investigation by federal agencies was underway due to computer hacking, and convinced the victim that the only way to pay the now close to $2,000 to clear her name was to submit the payment using “I-Tunes” cards. The victim was contacted again and convinced that additional payments were needed and then more “I-Tunes” were purchased and the money was forwarded; now closer to $3,000 was paid.

Each of the cases presented are just the bare facts. Even though in each case the scammers are very convincing, they are committing a crime. Sometimes the scammers will use fear and intimidation to complete the crime, while other times, they will seem like charmers and are only contacting the victim to “help” the victim out.

 The West University Place Police Department has received other reports from residents that received similar scam telephone calls. We would encourage each resident to report to the police department any suspicious phone calls, emails, or any other form of communication that you feel is or might be a scam. Also, if you receive a questionable call, please obtain a call back number for the questionable caller, and contact the police at 713-668-0330. Do not become a victim. Ask questions BEFORE following through with the instructions from a suspected scammer.

Additional Info from the Federal Trade Commission
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