ST. PETERS, Mo. – We trust the police to protect us. Scammers know that and, on Monday, used that trust to con a St. Louis woman out of $9,000.
“I think a lot of us were really disturbed by it,” St. Peters Police Officer Melissa Doss said.
What disturbs Doss about this case is how scammers used her department and her colleague’s names as the bait.
“What they’re doing, is using authority to try and create fear of arrest in order to get that money,” Doss said.
The victim told FOX 2 that the scammer called her from a St. Peters police phone number and posed as a sergeant from the department.
That number was spoofed. The man knew what she does for a living and loosely connected her work to a crime. He told her she’d been cited for failing to appear in federal court as a character witness in the case.
He convinced her with badge numbers, case numbers, and a $9,000 payment she made via untraceable money cards in order to get the citations dismissed or go to jail.
“We will never call you and ask for money and we especially don’t accept any bonds over the phone and we will not accept them in the form of gift cards,” Doss said.
The victim, who does not to be identified, said she is embarrassed and upset with herself for failing to see the red flags.
“Did they contact you? That’s a red flag,” Doss said.
“Are they demanding payment immediately? That’s another red flag. The third red flag is are they creating some kind of consequence or fear of consequence if you don’t pay them immediately,” Doss said.
The victim and police hope sharing this story will help everyone learn how to better identify and avoid these scams in the future.
“I think it’s important that people understand this can happen to anybody,” Doss said.
“It can happen to your parents, and we really need to be understanding about it so people feel more comfortable reporting it and getting that information out to everybody else.”