Newport News Police warning of scam with fake arrest warrant

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 16:52:16-05

Newport News, Va. (WTKR) - Newport News Police are warning the public about a scam involving a fake arrest warrant.

Detective Dinah Balthis with the Economic Crimes Unit says the scam starts with an email that contains personal information about the potential victim, including their Social Security Number.

"There’s some kind of a data breach that they are getting ahold of and they are using that information to manipulate the victim and form these scams," she told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Thursday.

The premise is that a potential victim has failed to repay a payday loan and they are threatened with legal action for not complying. The email also contains an authentic looking arrest warrant.

"This is the first time I’ve seen personally an arrest warrant being emailed to the potential victim," Balthis commented.

Newport News Police played for NewsChannel 3 a recording of the phone call they participated in with a potential victim who realized it was a scam and contacted police.

During the call, a man with a foreign accent claiming to be an attorney advises the potential victim they have two options. The first is to go to court.

"If you lose this case against the jury, then you have to pay around $13,000" he says on the call.

"If you choose option number two, just sent us $697.45 and we’ll forget about the whole thing. So right there it’s unrealistic. This is a scam," Detective Balthis explained.

While there are some obvious signs of fraud in the materials sent to potential victims, such as misspellings and made-up charges, detectives worry someone may still fall victim to the scam.

"You have somebody who is maybe worried about layoffs and stuff and they get something like this, it’s going to cause stress and they are going to worry.  They might feel like 'I can’t deal with another thing, let me pay it and get it out of the way,'" Detective Balthis explained.

If you receive a scam such as this, police encourage you to report it so that they can open an investigation.