New scam is using fake red light camera tickets to get your money
POSTED: Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 11:33pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 10:36am
There's a new scam in El Paso that's using fake red light camera tickets to try and scare you into handing over your money.
An El Paso couple almost fell for the scam when they got a call last week saying there was a warrant for their arrest.
The only way to avoid going to jail? Give the person calling almost two hundred dollars in pre-paid credit cards.
"I was just thinking all along, this just doesn't sound right," said Joseph Richards.
Joseph and his wife were caught completely off guard last week when they got a call from a man claiming to be an El Paso police sergeant.
The man said a district judge issued a warrant for Joseph's wife for an outstanding red light traffic ticket.
"Well maybe, we ran a red light and didn't remember," he said.
They were told to avoid going to jail, the Richards had to pay $175 fine.
"You know if made you feel uneasy,” Joseph said. “Like well I better comply with what this guy is saying."
The man on the phone wanted the money from a pre-paid credit card. So Joseph drove to the store and bought one of those cards.
The retired couple knew something wasn't right, so while Joseph was on the phone with the scammer, his wife called their lawyer.
"They called me and I said absolutely not. Absolutely not," said Justin Underwood. He is a partner of a local law firm that specializes in traffic law.
Underwood said as soon as he heard what was going on; he knew the Richards were being scammed.
"I've never seen the city or the county say you can pay us with a pre-paid phone card via the telephone," he explained.
But that wasn't the only red flag. District courts don’t deal with the red light camera tickets. But the Richards were told a district judge issued their warrant.
"Red light camera violations are more like civil penalties,” Underwood said. “They don't issue warrants for red light camera violations."
Underwood said the scammers are probably using disposable phones.
"This is one that is quick, it’s fast and it’s completely anonymous,” he said.
Which is why the Richards will be on alert from now on.
"There are a lot of scammers out there,” Joseph said. “There really is. Even more so now than ever."
The Roberts did call the police to report what happened, but if the scammers are using pre-paid phones, they can be hard to track.
Underwood says you can check with a law office if you get one of these call to see if you have a warrant. You should call police if you have any doubt in a call.