Police impersonators demand fines for missing jury duty in new scam

Nathaniel Herz

A half-dozen Anchorage residents have been the target of a police impersonation scam over the last 24 hours, police said Saturday.

No one has been tricked by the ruse, said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.

In it, the targets reported that they'd taken calls from people claiming to be police officers. The callers said that the targets had missed jury duty, and that to avoid being arrested, they had to buy the fake cops a pre-paid debit card at a Wal-Mart or Walgreens.

The callers gave the targets false names of officers, and one provided a false badge number. Some of the callers even knew the targets' names and addresses, and some identifying details of their homes, which Castro said could have been pulled from property tax records and Google Maps.

The phone numbers used by the swindlers have so far proven untraceable, and police will have to pursue other leads to catch them, Castro said.

Castro didn't know the standard penalty for missing jury duty, but she said that any time a resident is issued a fine, they're supposed to pay through the department.

"You would never hand an actual officer any kind of money," she said.

Anyone who thinks they've been the target of a scam should call police dispatch at 786-8900, police said.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.