Jacksonville police warn residents about new phone scam

Offer on phone includes option to donate to bogus charity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police are warning residents to be on guard and aware of what seems like a new approach to an old phone scam scheme.

When the phone rings, police said the caller ID reads "City of Jacksonville." However, residents should be careful of whatever the caller asks of you.

Hannah Whitcher said it all started Tuesday with a missed call. Then Wednesday, she picked up and got an offer to deposit money into her bank account.

"That's when I got first call, that I'd overpaid my property taxes by $4000," said Whitcher.

Whitcher was surprised and not at all sucked into what would become an obvious scam.

"My first impression: I don't own any property in Jax, so I didn't pay any property taxes," said Whitcher.

Whitcher kept listening to a recorded message on the call and tried to find out more. The offer included an option to donate the supposed over-payment to a bogus charity.

But Whitcher never made it to another person on the line and decided to get JSO involved.

"They do give you an option at the end to speak to a live person. I chose that option, no one was available," said Whitcher. "Then, the phone just disconnected."

Investigators took Whitcher's complaint, made a call and found out exactly what they needed to know -- that this is a scam.

"You have reached a non-working number for the City of Jacksonville," the phone call said, then hanging up.

Melissa Bujeda from Jacksonville police said Hannah spotted the warning signs, and her smart decision, is something one can learn from.

"You could give away your bank information to have this money wired to you, and you could go online tomorrow, and be wiped clean," said Bujeda. "So, just be very, very careful."

Whitcher said she follows the rule -- never to give out her personal information over the phone, online, or in person, if she doesn't trust the source.

"This woman did exactly what police want. A little red light went off in her head, something isn't right here, she called police," said Bujeda. "We verified, and it is absolutely untrue information."

"It makes me feel good. I'm not naive enough to give in to their tactics, and do the right thing, to try to stop this from taking advantage of other people," said Whitcher.

Whitcher told Channel 4's Kent Justice since Tuesday, she's received six or seven calls, including another call on Friday.

JSO said once they posted the scam alert on their Facebook page, other people said they too had received similar calls.

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