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Scammer posing as DEA agent steals $12,000 from Annapolis resident in gift card fraud

An Annapolis resident in his 80s received a phone call from a scammer posing as a DEA agent Friday. The resident owed a debt of $12,000 that needed to be paid immediately, the scammer said.

The man then received another call, this time from a person impersonating the Annapolis police chief, who reassured him that the DEA agent was legitimate.

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After paying off the sham debt in Google Play gift cards, a common way scammers steal money off gift card’s serial numbers, the man is out $12,000.

Annapolis police say they’ve recently received an alarming amount of reports from city residents tricked into purchasing gift cards to pay off fraudulent debts, loans and warrants on the pretense that they, or someone they know, are in trouble or danger.

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People who have their money stolen by online scammers often don’t get the money back, said police spokesperson David Stokes.

“Typically they’ll target elderly resident, but not all victims are elderly,” Stokes said. He warned that scammers are very convincing.

Police say residents should call them if they’re confused or not sure about the legitimacy of a caller who is demanding money. Federal agencies, banks and companies will never request payment by gift card, police said. Gift card scams can be reported at Reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Annapolis police have also seen a rise in attempted unemployment fraud. In two instances in the past week a person reported to the police that an unknown person attempted to file for unemployment using their personal information. In both cases the scammer was unsuccessful in collecting money using the victim’s identity.

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