Safety advisories

Phone scammers posing as police officers
The Dearborn Police Department has become aware of a scam involving people contacting victims by telephone claiming to be law enforcement or IRS agencies collecting debts.

The scammer will try to intimidate the victim by threatening to put him or her in jail if the money is not paid. The scammer will ask the victim to purchase pre-paid gift cards and provide the card information when he or she calls back. Usually, the victim has no knowledge of any debt.

In the recent cases the scammer falsely claims to be a police officer; however, the DPD does not solicit or collect money for unpaid tickets, fees, or any other debts over the phone or via email.

If you receive such a phone call, never give any personal
information to the caller. Always get a call back phone number and never send money to anyone you do not know.
The DPD advises if you feel you have been a victim of such a scam, contact the your local police department.

Be aware of scam artists
“Scam artists” are criminals that often prey on senior citizens because these citizens are trusting, living alone, or have large sums of money available to them.

These types of scams may include home invasions, burglaries, robberies, thefts, confidence games, door-to-door, solicitors, home companion scams, or home repair frauds.

Many scams are often committed by well organized, transient criminals who evade identification and arrest by operating in various cities and towns under many different aliases. They often leave town before a crime has been discovered or reported.

One or two people make contact with a homeowner by ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. They attempt
to distract the homeowner and direct them toward the kitchen with deceptions such as:
• Faking an illness

• Posing as a utility worker

• Offering to complete home repairs

• Pretending to have a package to deliver

• Asking for paper or pen to leave a note for a neighbor

• Asking if the house is for sale

• Looking for a lost dog or cat Once the homeowner is distracted, several unseen accomplices will enter the home and explore the house in search of jewelry or money.

There is usually very little sign of ransacking
since the accomplices go through the homeowner’s items very carefully taking only certain valuables and putting everything else back in its place. After the suspects leave, the homeowner may not even realize that anything has been taken.

Another common scam occurs when a homeowner is approached
by one or more people and offers to conduct home repairs such as a new roof, cement repairs, at a very low cost. The con-artist will then convince the homeowner to pay for all or part of the repair up front in cash. Once the homeowner gives the money to the con-artist, the con-artist leaves the area and never returns to complete the home repairs.

• Use caution when dealing with strangers – even those who wear authentic looking uniforms and may have a reason for entering the house.

• Be suspicious of strangers offering to share found money or lottery winnings with you.

• Request and verify identification before letting somebody in your house.

• Check a company’s reputation with the Better Business
Bureau before conducting business with them.

• Request a written estimate for repair work. Also, get estimates from other companies before making any type of commitment.

• Do not invest hastily. Do not rush into a bargain. If it appears too good to be true, it usually is.

• Ask that you wish to discuss a contract with a lawyer before signing any documents.

• When in doubt, call the police.

• If the suspects leave before the police arrive, try to obtain a description of the person or vehicle involved. A license plate number helps the investigation a great deal.

• Scam artists are persuasive and persistent. They are very well trained in what they do and have managed to take away some people’s entire life savings. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to remain cautious and become educated on how these types of groups operate.

If Dearborn residents believe that they have been victims of a scams, they are asked to call the Dearborn Police Department at 313-943-2240. They also are asked to report all suspicious activity to the Dearborn Police at 313-943-3030.