The Ionia County Sheriff's Office took to Facebook today to warn residents about a few scams that have popped up in the area recently.

One scam involves an "unmarked" police vehicle, while another involves extortion and compromising photos. 

In a lengthy Facebook post, the sheriff's department explained the scams in detail.

"Unmarked Police Vehicle" Scam

On July 20, a citizen filed a complaint that a person in an “unmarked” police car pulled into his driveway. The citizen described the car as “white car with police rims and spot lights”. The make of the vehicle and the license plate number were unable to be determined. The driver never exited the vehicle but was described as a white male, 20-30 years old, with sunglasses, and red hair. The citizen reported that he approached the driver and asked him if he could help him to which the driver replied that he got a tip that there were illegal firearms at his house. The driver requested the homeowners identification which he provided. The man in the unmarked car then "scanned" the driver’s license into some type of device.

The driver then told the homeowner that he was good and that he probably did not have illegal guns in his house. The homeowner did not ask for ID and the driver never told him he was an agent or police officer.

According to the sheriff's department:

THIS IS A SCAM! Never be afraid to ask someone in plain clothes that is portraying themselves or claiming to being an officer for identification. We all carry identification and a badge that identifies what agency we belong to. If this happens to you, please call Ionia County Sheriff’s Office or Ionia Central Dispatch to report it.

Extortion Involving Compromising Photos

On July 19, a complaint involving extortion was filed with the sheriff's department. This type of scam works by someone getting a victim to send photographs of themselves in compromising positions. They then threaten to post those photos on social media, or that they will go to the police saying that you just sent compromising photographs to a minor. They say you can avoid them doing that by sending them an amount of money.

Scammers may even go as far as impersonating a police officer on the phone advising that they received the complaint and are going to get warrants for your arrest unless you pay the extortion amount.

The sheriff's department says,

The first lesson to be learned from this case is DON’T SEND SOMEONE COMPROMISING PICTURES OF YOURSELF! This is only compounded by sending them to someone you don’t know or just met on the internet! Odds are they are not who they say they are. With today’s technology, it is easy to use an app on the phone to caller ID spoof. With the use of these apps, a person can put any number they want to show up on your caller ID in including a police department. If you have any question as to who is calling you, tell them you will call them back and look the number up yourself.

The sheriff's department also touched on a couple of scams that have been in the area for a while including scammers claiming to be from the IRS, and scammers claiming to be your family member stuck in another country and in need of money.

In all of these cases, the Ionia County Sheriff's Department suggest that if you are in doubt in any way that you call their central dispatch and request to speak with an officer - especially before sending money.



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