GATLINBURG, Tenn.—The Gatlinburg Police Department is issuing a warning to the community about a scam, where callers pose as a member of a law enforcement or government agency seeking to be paid in gift cards.
Perpetrators in this scam contact victims by telephone or social media, impersonating themselves as a member of the law enforcement or government agency. Scammers also can make the phone number or social media account appear to be someone known by the victim or appear to be from a government agency and often know details about the victim or the business. Appearing to use local phone numbers, especially those of local authorities, is a tactic often used by scammers to make it seem like the phone call originates locally.
During the call, scammers have variations of scenarios in an attempt to convince the victim that they need to pay fees to receive a grant or cash award, or that they need to secure money as part of a criminal investigation. Perpetrators often use intimidation and threaten incarceration if instructions are not followed. As part of the scam, victims are instructed to provide the funds by purchasing pre-paid gift cards and then provide the information on the cards.
“The Gatlinburg Police Department reminds individuals that law enforcement and government agencies will never solicit any type of monetary funds over the telephone,” said Chief Randy Brackins. “Anyone who demands to be paid with a pre-paid gift card is a scammer.”
If you receive an unsolicited phone call that meets the above description, or asks for payment, Gatlinburg Police ask you to take the following steps:
- Do not take immediate action or engage in any conversation, as scammers may record your response.
- Do not provide any credit card, banking or any other personal information.
- Do not send money if a caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Instead, call the Gatlinburg Police Department at 865-436-5181 to report the call.
Gatlinburg Police encourage the community to be active in helping report these types of scam calls. Scammers are consistently devising new schemes. Never provide unsolicited callers with any personal information such as your address, phone number, banking information, credit card account number, social security number or any other personal identification information.
For more information on dealing with scam telephone schemes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0208-phone-scams.