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Police Department
Press Contact: Byron White, Berkeley Police Department, (510) 981-5780

WARNING ABOUT A RECENT SCAM

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, April 24, 2019) - According to a recent report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the amount of cyber-enabled fraud crimes have been on the rise over the past few years (https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/ic3-releases-2018-internet-crime-report-042219). 

Just this past Thursday, a young woman received a call from a person claiming to be an “Officer Neil Matthew” with Berkeley Police (the Berkeley Police Department does not have an Officer Neil Matthew).  According to the caller id, the call came from 510-981-5900 (BPD’s listed non-emergency number).  The scammer demanded that the woman send him all of the money (to be paid with bitcoin) in her bank account because she was under investigation for drug trafficking and fraudulent activities.  The scammer repeatedly called the woman from multiple numbers—including 911.  Scammers have figured out ways to mask their own telephone numbers with official numbers on your caller id. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when receiving suspicious calls like this: 

  • Scammers know how to fake caller-id 
  • Scammers will often threaten people by saying they are under investigation 
  • Scammers follow their threats with demands for money 
  • Scammer often demand you pay them using cyber methods such as bitcoin, store gift cards, wire transfer, etc. 

Remember, the police will never call you—threatening with arrest if you don’t pay them money.  Additionally, you should never feel that you have to give out credit card, bank account, or Social Security information over the telephone.  In the event that you receive a suspicious call like this that you are unsure of, you can always hang-up and call the Department back directly to make sure the call was actually from the Police Department. 

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