The Wichita Falls Police Department is warning residents about a scam potentially costing victims thousands of dollars.
The scammers are using a computer program to disguise their phone number as the department's non-emergency line and telling people on the other end they need to pay an outstanding fine or face arrest. Detective Tony Ramirez said the real phone number gives people a false sense of security. He said, "People will see the police departments phone number does come up and they know its a legitimate phone number so they take that as being a credible call."
Detective Martinez says they've gotten around 20 calls over the last 6 months, though recently they've been coming in more frequently. Tracing these criminals down can be extremely difficult because ghost phone web sites and apps are readily available.
Martinez said, "In some cases we can go back and track the numbers but because it goes back to a ghost site, by the time we receive the subpoena results back they've already changed several times."
The criminals could also be operating outside the department's jurisdiction, even in another country. With an arrest in the case unlikely, Martinez said the goal is education. "Right now prevention is the best outcome, alerting the public to what's going on through the community services and lettering them know before they become a victim."
If you think you've been a victim of the phony scam, you should call the WFPD non-emergency number, 720-5000.