Over the last few years, Courtney Duva has made a living helping women look and feel their very best. She rarely takes calls at work, but last month the Plano stylist received several calls from an unfamiliar number.
She decided to answer. Duva said the caller informed her that he was with the federal government and he had a warrant for her arrest.
If she hung up, they’d arrest her on the spot.
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Duva said she assured the man she didn’t do anything wrong. But then, another call came in, and the caller ID showed the Plano Police Department’s phone number.
"They said, 'okay, so your social was stolen and your name was stolen,'" she said.
Duva said the officer told her a woman in Austin had been using her identity to commit drug crimes. In order to clear her name and identity, she needed to drain her bank account.
Duva was then ordered to transfer all of her money onto Google Play gift cards to keep her funds safe and secure.
She put $2,000 on the cards and sent pictures of the cards as instructed. But when she called Plano PD’s number back, she said a real officer let her know this was a total scam.
Plano Detective Jerry Minton said this scam is becoming a major problem for departments across the country. He said the crooks are spoofing caller IDs, making you think the number that appears on your phone is that of law enforcement.
"What they’re doing is, they’re playing on people’s fears," he said.
Detective Minton said in today’s climate, people are afraid of law enforcement, and in many cases, they're willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the police, even if that means paying first and asking questions later.
"With the badgering techniques that are being used, they are catching people off guard," he explained.
Duva said she still blames herself.
"I felt embarrassed, humiliated," she said.
But Detective Minton said she shouldn’t because there are a lot of other victims out there.
"These people are professionals. This is their 9 to 5 job and this is what they’ve been trained to do by other people. Unfortunately, they're pretty good at it," Minton explained.
Minton said he has issued a search warrant to Google so that he can try to track down those cards and where all of that money went.
We reached out to Google for comment and haven’t heard back.
Plano PD wants to remind consumers that they would never threaten or badger you over the phone for money, and they certainly wouldn’t ask you to send use gift cards to protect your money.
So if you’re ever doubtful, hang up.
Call the department’s number and ask to speak with a detective. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re being scammed.