Boise Police Department
News Release

William L. Bones
Chief of Police

Contact: BPD Media Relations Office


Friday, November 08, 2013

Scam Alert: Callers threaten victims with arrest if they don't purchase a pre-paid cash card.

Boise, Nov. 8, 2013 - Boise Police are alerting citizens to a new twist on an old scam. This time, scammers are using fear and the threat of arrest to persuade victims to buying pre-paid debit cards and giving the card numbers to the scammers over the phone.

Boise Police have taken several reports just this week of the same telephone scam. One victim was taken for a sum just under $500.

The Scam: Victims report receiving a call, and in one case being left a voice mail message, from a male caller claiming to be a local law enforcement officer, often calling themselves a Lieutenant, and identifying themselves as being with the "Ada County Warrant Division".

The caller says there's a warrant for the citizen's arrest for failure to pay a red light or traffic ticket. The caller threatens the victim with immediate arrest if they dont go purchase a pre-paid cash card then give the card's serial and security number to them over the phone. The amount demanded has been approximately $500. The caller will either stay on the phone with the victim while the card is purchased or provided a call back number.

The call back phone number appears to be from Idaho but may in fact be coming from a Voice over Internet Protocol. Officers have called the numbers back and found the location cannot be determined. 

Victims say the callers are very threatening and appear to have personal information about them including their home address or workplace. 

Officers advise anyone receiving such a call to hang up and immediately call local law enforcement. 

  • Legitimate law enforcement agencies would not call individuals and demand money under any circumstances.
  • Never give a credit, debit or pre-paid cash card number over the phone. Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to send money.
  • Unlike a credit card, pre-paid debit cards are untraceable and charges cannot be reversed. When the serial number of the card is given to the scammer, the victim is out the money.  
  • If you believe you may have a legitimate warrant for your arrest or unpaid traffic fine, look up and call your local phone numbers so you know you're talking to a legitimate public agency. 
  • Education is the best prevention for scams. The FBI has a web site continuously updated on the latest phone, mail and Internet scams.

Variations of this scam are being reported around the country, using a variety of reasons, from a traffic ticket to missing jury duty, to threaten victims with arrest if they dont purchase a pre-paid debit card and give the scammer the number.