South Bay residents beware: multiple reports of a telephone scammer impersonating a Manhattan Beach police officer were received Monday afternoon, according to local law enforcement.
The Manhattan Beach Police Department received some 20 calls complaining that someone claiming to be from MBPD called threatening to arrest them if they did not send money, according to Sgt. Tim Zins.
“The police department would never call somebody and tell them to send money or be incarcerated,” Zins said. “That would never happen."
The scammer was using a local phone number—(424) 301-6278—which Zins explained is a common practice.
“Most of these telephone scammers are using a 424 area code, but they’re calling from a different state or country, masking their real phone numbers,” he said.
The outgoing voicemail message linked to the number sounds to be a man who identifies himself as Captain Tim Hagden with Manhattan Beach Police Department.
While there is a Captain Tim Hageman with MBPD, it is unclear if the suspect is attempting to falsely impersonate a specific officer.
Zins said the department would investigate if any victims came forward, but added MBPD would send information regarding the scammer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
No victims of the scammer had been reported as of press time, he continued.
“We encourage people to just not answer the phone if it’s a number they don’t recognize," Zins advised. "Let it go to voicemail, listen to the voicemail and if it’s a scam call, immediately block the number."
He said these types of scams are more frequent during tax season when callers claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service, but noted they can happen anytime and that certain communities, particularly the elderly, are especially vulnerable.
It’s important to keep in mind, Zins said, the police department would never request funds over the phone.
Residents are also encouraged to sign up for community Nixle notifications for immediate updates about local police activity.
You can do so by visiting http://www.nixle.com/ or opt-in by texting your zip code to 888777.