MATT GEPHARDT

Imposters are using trust in law enforcement to scam Utahns

Apr 1, 2024, 10:33 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY Scrolling social media, Joyce Lake spotted an ad for a doll.

“I decided that I wanted one,” she said.

Lake contacted the seller and shared that she is disabled. That apparently prompted the seller to give her a break.

“’I’ll give it to you and all you have to do is pay the $50 shipping,” Luke said the seller told her. “I’m like, ‘cool.’”

But it turned out to be very uncool. Not only did the doll not show up, but the seller also began messaging Lake about needing more money. They told her the package was being held up by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Instantly, Lake was suspicious. When she said as much to the person on the other end of the messaging app, they tried to allay her concerns.

“Calm down, please” said one of the seller’s messages. “I just called the police on them and the police has spoken with them. If you send them the last $50 and they don’t show up, they have to do your refund alongside your package forcefully, OK.”

All a scam

That’s right, the cops were now involved to keep everyone honest, Lake was told. That turned out to be a lie. It was all a scam.

The whole story is an elaborate con designed to ensnare Americans and it’s having pretty good success according to data from the Federal Trade Commission. Imposters made off with $752 million last year up from $666 million the year before and up from $438 million the year before that.

“Tired of getting taken advantage of,” Lake said of the scheme.

While she didn’t fall for the cop ruse, she did lose the money she wired for the doll.

“It’s not right for people to do this,” she said.

Con men impersonate police all the time. Sometimes it’s about gaining trust. Other times, it’s about intimidating people into rash decisions. People will often get calls or texts from authorities warning them they’ve missed a payment, missed jury duty or something, and they’re told if they don’t pay right now, they would be arrested. Police don’t do that!

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Imposters are using trust in law enforcement to scam Utahns