A gang in India operated a fake police station out of a hotel for eight months, extorting money from hundreds of people—only 1,600 feet from the home of the local police chief, an official said this week. Read on to find out how they pulled it off, how the scam came to light, and how common fake-police scams are in the U.S.
The Guardian reported that a gang in Bihar, India, established the fake station, wore uniforms with official-looking badges, and carried guns. According to legitimate local police official DC Srivastava, the scammers charged locals who came to their “station” to file complaints, while pocketing bribes from others by promising to help them get jobs on the force or obtain subsidized housing. The fakers also paid nearby residents 500 rupees a day (about $6) to pretend to be other police officers assigned to the station.
The scam was discovered when an actual police officer saw two members of the gang carrying guns made in local workshops instead of service-grade weapons. Six members of the gang, including two women, have been arrested, but the leader is still at large, said Srivastava. “[An] investigation is underway in the case,” he said. “More information will come to light.”
“Incidents of fraudsters pretending to be police or soldiers are common in India, where there is widespread fear of and respect for those in uniform but setting up a bogus police station takes the scams up a level,” report states.
While they might not be as brazen as the case in India, fake police scams are all too common in the U.S. In May, the Phoenix Police Department warned local residents about scam callers who claimed to be members of the police and would extort money from people they called to keep them off the sex offender registry. Police officials said that no member of the department would solicit money and urged people to be cautious when giving personal information to someone they don’t know.
Last March, Hudson Valley 360 warned upstate New Yorkers that scammers were calling and texting local residents pretending to be local members of law enforcement. In one case, they asked to be called back about an urgent matter; in another, a text link encouraged the recipient to click a link to buy a sheriff’s office shirt. Local police also advised not sending money to anyone who isn’t a trusted source; once sent, it can be difficult or impossible to get that money back.
And this week, police in Mission, Texas, warned the public that a person identifying themselves as “Sgt. Bob Quait” was calling local residents, asking them to deposit money to an account or purchase a gift card. “Officers are asking the public not to return the scammer’s call and to notify local authorities immediately,” reported ValleyCentral.