Caller poses as police chief, demands money

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - They aren't sure if it was a scam or a prank, but the Jonesboro Police Department does know it wasn't them who called and demanded money from a local resident.

Jonesboro Police Lt. Scott Baxter said it started when a man received a phone call demanding he cough up quite a bit of money.

"Demanding that he owed $3,000 and that he needed to pay $3,000," Lt. Baxter explained.

When the man called JPD to tell them of the incident, he explained that it was their phone number that popped up on his caller ID. The man on the other end of the line claimed to be pretty high up in ranking too.

"The caller said his name was Michael Yates," Lt. Baxter said. However, JPD said it's not all as it seems because it wasn't the chief calling to demand money and neither was it anyone else at the department.

They believe someone posed as them during the phone call with help from an app on a smartphone.

"There are new apps out there where you can make it change what it says your phone number is when you call someone," Lt. Baxter explained. "They can make it say a police department phone number, they can make it say a business number... pretty much anything they want."

Though Lt. Baxter said they've only received one call about something like this happening, they want to warn others in case it's a scammer.

"Hopefully it was an isolated incident or maybe even a prank."

Just in case it's not, they want to get the word out that this isn't the way the PD conducts business.

"Even on old fines, they would issue a warrant for old fines. We wouldn't be calling, hounding anyone for money," Lt. Baxter said.

No matter what name shows up on the caller ID, Lt. Baxter advised that if someone calls and demands you give them money or personal information, let them know you're suspicious of the call and hang up.

"Then, look up the phone number yourself, don't just dial back the number that called you, but look up the phone number yourself to the business and call that business or agency, whichever it may be and contact them directly yourself," Baxter said. "That way, you're the one initiating it and you know who you called."

Lt. Baxter told Region 8 News they generally don't even accept money at the police department. He said, in some instances, they will accept bond money if the courts are already closed.

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