Victims lose $6,000 in scam

Two local residents were scammed out of thousands of dollars after they received a call from a person claiming to be from the Columbus Police Department demanding payment of a fine.

The caller threatened the victims with arrest if they didn’t pay a fine in regards to back taxes that they owed, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

The caller ID shown to the victims on their phones showed the call originated from 812-376-2600, which is the number for the Columbus Police Department, Harris said.

Officers believe the suspects are using a cellphone masking application to make it appear that they are calling from the police department, said Detective Ryan Linneweber.

During the phone call, the suspect instructed the victims to purchase gift and phone cards for payment to avoid arrest, Linneweber said. According to investigators, the victims were scammed out of $6,000.

The Columbus Police Department does not solicit payment for warrants or back taxes over the phone or seek payment in the form of gift cards, phone cards or wired money.

If people have any doubts about the legitimacy of any phone call or document, hang up and call the Columbus Police Department directly, officers said.

Where to call to report scams

If people receive a telephone call seeking some sort of payment for warrants or back taxes from anyone claiming to be a police officer, hang up and report the call to the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.