GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department says phone scammers are pretending to be Chief Eric Payne.
The department said it has gotten several complaints of scammers impersonating the chief, saying they are calling as part of an investigation but ultimately demanding money. The scammers are even spoofing the department’s main line to make the calls look legitimate, but GRPD assures the public they are not.
“The Grand Rapids Police Department, including Chief Eric Payne, will not contact community members by phone asking for, or demanding, money,” GRPD Sgt. Dan Adams said in a Thursday statement.
If you get such a call, do not give the person on the other end of the line any personal information or any money. You can call GRPD back at 616.456.3400 to confirm whether the call was real.
The scam is not new: Over the years, scammers have frequently pretended to be from various West Michigan law enforcement agencies and threatened people into giving them money, often saying that they may go to jail if they don’t pay up. But you should be aware you are facing charges well before you are asked to pay any fines or fees. If you get a call like that and are worried, call the department back or reach out to the court to confirm whether there is any pending legal action against you.
Other times, especially around tax season, scammers say they’re from the IRS or Michigan Department of the Treasury and that you owe taxes. But those types of agencies won’t call to threaten you, they won’t demand you pay in a specific way like via prepaid debit card and they will always have sent you a letter through the mail first.
Scammers can also pretend to be charities. If you get a cold call that seems like it’s from a charity, don’t give them money over the phone. First check them out — the IRS has a website that helps you confirm which charities are real — and then look into secure donation options.
You can report scam calls to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission online.