Another Public Safety Scam Making The Rounds

And this one is scary, given how far the scammers are willing to go to make it seem real.  Please be careful.

There’s one subtle clue to the fakery in what the scammers say – someone from Sunnyvale’s Department of Public Safety would never use the term “Sunnyvale Police Department”.

Continuing our pledge of keeping positive open lines of communication with our residents and Neighborhood Associations, I wanted to pass along reminder information about scams and frauds that are targeting our community, and in particular senior adults.

Recently I spoke with a Sunnyvale resident who was contacted about winning a Clearing House Sweepstakes.  The man on the other end of the phone sounded very convincing to her, but she knew it sounded too good to be true.  This man requested she wire $1400 for “insurance” purposes so that her winnings could be transferred to her.  Our resident was very skeptical so the caller eased her concerns and told her someone from law enforcement would call her.  The next caller identified himself as an FBI agent and told her that he reviewed the documents and this was legitimate.  He congratulated her and then told her to send the $1400.  Our smart resident was still skeptical, but it was now sounding possible.  The new caller offered her peace of mind by telling her that he would contact the Sunnyvale Police Department and provide them with the information.  He told her that a police officer would then call her.  About 20 minutes later she received another call from someone who claimed to be a police lieutenant with Sunnyvale Police.  He assured her that this was not a scam and it was ok to send the money.

Learning point– In this particular scam, the third caller claimed to be a Sunnyvale police officer and in fact gave the full name of a current Sunnyvale police lieutenant.  Further, the number that showed on her caller ID was 730-7100  which appeared to be our main information line.  When our resident checked and saw that the number was truly associated with the Department of Public Safety she was really thinking that this was a possibility.  Luckily, she told the caller that she would meet with them on Monday at the police station here in Sunnyvale to provide the money and finish the transaction.  As you can imagine, they never called back or showed up.

This is a CONFIRMED scam known as an “advanced payment” scam.  As a reminder, no government agency will contact you by phone suggesting, asking or telling you that it is ok to send money anywhere.  Unless a celebrity shows up on your door step, you did not win a clearing house sweepstakes, sorry.  If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.  If anyone asks you to send money first to get more money later, then it is a scam.  Never wire transfer money to anyone you don’t personally know and then if you do know them, only if you personally talk with them.  Some scammers will infiltrate email and pose as a friend stuck somewhere needing money.

Additional information regarding these scams and other Internet Fraud safety tips can be found on the FBI website at

Thank you for your continued support of the City of Sunnyvale, Department of Public Safety.

Tracy C. Hern
Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety
Crime Prevention Unit
(408) 730-7114


Another Public Safety Scam Making The Rounds — 3 Comments