Posts tagged with Scam

Police share surveillance photos of suspects in gift-card scam

Lawrence police have shared local surveillance images of people suspected in a gift-card scam — one that preys on elderly victims — being investigated by out-of-state agencies.

The photos depict two people in a check-out lane and a black SUV outside. Lawrence police shared the images on social media Wednesday and asked anyone who knows who the people are to call police at 830-7441.

Lawrence police are helping out-of-state agencies in identifying suspects in the scam, which has targeted elderly victims and bilked them out of thousands of dollars, Officer Drew Fennelly said, in an email. This is how the scam works, according to Fennelly: Suspects contact the victim and claim to be a family member who is in jail. Suspects then ask the victim to send gift cards to their “family member” to help the person get out of jail.

“The major red flag in these scams is that no jail is going to take gift cards as payment to bond out, however senior citizens unfamiliar with the technology may not be aware of this, thus are more susceptible to the scam,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly said the suspect or suspects in a pair of incidents were connected to an unnamed local retailer. He said police obtained the photos from the retailer in hopes of identifying the people associated with the fraudulently obtained gift cards.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.

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KU student swindled by Instagram scam

A University of Kansas student is out more than $2,000 after reportedly falling victim to a scammer on Instagram.

According to a KU police report and information from KU Deputy Chief James Anguiano, a student reported to police this week that someone hacked his aunt’s Instagram account and claimed to need money — which the victim sent, thinking it was to help his aunt when actually it was to someone posing as her online.

The loss was valued at $2,850, according to the report. The suspect is unknown, and the investigation remains open, Anguiano said.

Similar scams can happen through other forms of electronic communication and social media, too, Anguiano said. His suggestion for avoiding falling prey to them: Pick up the phone.

“Call to verify if they really need the money,” Anguiano said.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.


Jury duty scammers calling Douglas County residents and asking for money

During the jury selection process it's clear some folks are happier to be there than others. Say what you will about jury duty, but it's all part and parcel of a healthy judiciary system.

With that said, it's still important to scrutinize letters and calls regarding jury duty, and the Douglas County Clerk of Courts is warning people about an ongoing scam hitting the area.

In short, Douglas County residents have been receiving phone calls saying they've failed to appear for a jury trial and a warrant has been issued for their arrest, the clerk's office said in a news release. The caller then tells the intended victim that the caller can recall the arrest warrant if the victim pays money over the phone.

A good rule of thumb is that governmental agencies, whether it's the IRS, police or local courts, will never bring up money over the phone. These types of financial transactions are generally handled in writing.

"Residents should know that any time money is brought up to be sent over the phone, via gift cards or prepaid visas, that that is a red flag and most likely a scam," the release said.

If you have indeed failed to appear for jury duty, the courts will send you a letter notifying you of the oversight and ask you to contact the court.

Anyone who receives one of these calls is asked to contact the court at 785-832-5213 or 785-832-5111. You may also want to report the scam to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office at 785-841-0007.

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.


Baldwin City police warning area residents of phone scam

Baldwin City police are warning area residents about an ongoing telephone scam involving someone claiming to be the city's municipal court clerk.

Several people recently reported receiving suspicious phone calls from a person claiming to be the clerk, said Baldwin City Police Lt. Gregg Schiffelbein. The mysterious caller told them they must pay a fine before the city issued a warrant for their arrest.

"This is a scam," Schiffelbein said. "Our city court clerk doesn't make calls for court fines over the phone."

Instead the city's actual clerk sends out letters notifying folks of their outstanding fines, Schiffelbein said.

The unknown callers all used actual information from Baldwin City's municipal court system, including real names and addresses, to make their requests appear legitimate, Schiffelbein said.

The scam calls have appeared under an 855 area code, Schiffelbein said.

Anyone receiving a suspicious phone call asking for money is encouraged to double check the requests, Schiffelbein said.

"If it doesn't sound right, you can contact Baldwin City municipal court directly," he said.

In addition, anyone who receives such a phone call is asked to report it to police immediately, Schiffelbein said.

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.


Scam alert: Area officials warn of phone scammers impersonating local agencies

There seems to be a rise in rip-offs targeting Lawrence and Douglas County residents as three local agencies issued phone scam alerts Monday evening.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Lawrence Police Department are warning about an apparent scheme to steal Social Security numbers and cash from area residents. Someone not affiliated with the agencies is allegedly calling citizens under the guise of “Sheriff Marshall” with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Our sheriff’s name is Ken McGovern, in case anyone was wondering.

“Sheriff Marshall” is allegedly telling people that he has a “grand jury warrant” for their arrest or — get this — a warrant for their arrest for “missing jury duty.” He then purportedly says they can “take care” of this warrant by going online to make a payment, according to the LPD and sheriff’s office.

The faux sheriff has reportedly told victims to purchase a pre-paid card or to use a credit card to pay to make the warrant go away. He also allegedly asks for personal information such as Social Security numbers, which should always raise one’s suspicions.

This is a scam. Don’t fall for it.

Area law enforcement agencies “will never call you to ask for payments for warrants over the phone,” the sheriff’s office said. That’s because warrants are dealt with either in the courtroom or at the jail.

Law enforcement agencies will also never call and ask for a credit card number, bank account information, Social Security number or other personal information over the phone, the sheriff’s office said.

“The only time law enforcement agencies in this area will ask for some of your personal information over the phone, like name, date of birth, address, etc., is if YOU have initiated a call to us for a report,” the sheriff’s office said.

If you think you may have been victimized in this scam and sent money to “Sheriff Marshall,” don’t be embarrassed. It’s unfortunately common for folks to fall prey to these scams. Instead, call law enforcement to file a report.

You can call non-emergency dispatch at (785) 843-0250, the (real) sheriff’s office at (785) 841-0007 or Lawrence police at (785) 832-7501. The Kansas Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at (800) 432-2310 will also investigate reports of scams.

Also on Monday, the city announced that it has received complaints that some Lawrence residents received calls from a person identifying him or herself as the “Lawrence Utilities Department,” then asking for personal checking account information.

This is also a scam.

The city said their Utility Billing Department representatives “will never ask you for your checking account information over the phone.”

If you receive a call that sounds similar to this, do not give the person your information. Hang up immediately, then call police dispatch at (785) 832-7509 to report the scam.

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