The Bonne Terre police chief wants to bring awareness to the public about a rise of phone scams and in vehicles being stolen or burglarized.
Bonne Terre Police Chief Doug Calvert said the phone scammers are mostly targeting people with landlines, but it’s not unusual for cellphones to receive the same calls.
“They are pirating phone numbers from all over, people from all over different areas, but most of the phone calls are coming from overseas,” Calvert said. “Most of the calls are to people with landlines and a lot of them are to people probably between the ages of 55 and 70 or older.”
Calvert said the scammers are trying to scare them and will say they are with the IRS and they will go to jail immediately if they don’t send them money.
“They are threatening their arrest immediately for different reasons, stating they are with different government agencies, such as the FBI,” Calvert said. “I just want to caution people to call local law enforcement or even the federal authorities if they have any questions.”
Calvert said his best understanding is that if the IRS or the FBI wants to talk to someone they will not call and demand money. He said the FBI will not come to your door.
“I know there has been past warnings, but it has been really prolific the past several weeks,” Calvert said. “Some of these victims … weren’t actual victims because they came to us to report it. One was an elderly lady who lives alone came to us with the complaint and I was actually able to contact the source who contacted her.”
Calvert told the man who he was and that he would contact the Attorney General or the FBI.
“He laughed and told me I had no way of finding him and never will find him,” Calvert said. “They are using computer-generated numbers and will change the number frequently. There is also another one calling anybody, depending on age, saying they owe student loans.”
Calvert said he personally has received 30 calls like that himself and it is always a different scam and phone number.
He added another thing is people need to remember not to leave valuables in their vehicles.
“When you leave you vehicle, make sure it is locked and you have the key,” Calvert said. “We have had thefts from vehicles and stolen vehicles, not as many as in the past, but they come in spells and both Farmington and Park Hills has had a rash of them at times as well.”
Calvert said what thieves will do is walk around and if the car is unlocked and there are valuables visible, they will go in and take them. Also if the keys are left in it, they may steal the vehicle.
“This is just a friendly reminder to everyone, anything that is valuable, please, lock it up,” Calvert stressed.
Calvert said take a few extra seconds to make sure they have their keys and nothing of value is left in the vehicle in plain view such as phones, laptops, money, wallets, purses or guns.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org