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Police warn of scam artists posing as officers

June 12, 2010 at 1:12 a.m.

The back of the identification card all law enforcement carry contains a number you can call to verify the officer's identity.

The Victoria Police Department is warning of a new scam that involves perpetrators sending fraudulent checks and impersonating police officers.

"It's a twist on a scam that has a personal touch on it because they come to your house," Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure said of the police imposters.

Police were made aware of the scam after a 17-year-old Victoria girl filled out an online job application for a house-sitting job in the Austin area.

The job description told of an English couple who would pre-pay a house-sitter $3,800. That amount would cover two week's worth of work at $400 per week, and the girl was instructed to cash the other $3,000 to pay painters who would stop by during her stay.

Ure said the girl's parents became suspicious and never cashed the check.

"Ninety-nine times out of 100, any advanced check from someone you don't know is a scam," Ure said.

But in this case, the criminals took their scam even further.

When the check wasn't cashed, Ure said a man in a dark police uniform and a woman in a business suit showed up to the victim's house to collect the check. The imposters claimed to be police officers and were even driving what looked like a police car with a light bar.

"To say it's very troubling is an understatement because part of the scam involves police imposters," said Ure. "For them to go back and ask for the check shows how committed they are to their scheme."

Ure said police were able to get a good description of the imposters but because these scams could originate from anywhere, finding and prosecuting them is unlikely.

Ure said the police department's policy is for officers to always identify themselves when approaching a residence.

"Anytime law enforcement comes to anybody's house, if you have any questions at all, you should request to see their identification and confirm it by calling the agency."

Victoria Police Department ID's have an officer's photo on the front and 24-hour verification number on the back.

Ure said he wants the public to be aware of this new type of scam because he's worried it's going to become more widespread.

"They didn't get anything this time, but they're not going to stop, either."



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