Scam impersonating Fairbanks police targets residents across Alaska

Scam impersonating Fairbanks police targets residents across Alaska
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:57 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - The Fairbanks Police Department is warning Alaskans of a scam that’s starting to circulate again in which someone poses as an officer of the Fairbanks Police Department and requests money.

Several agencies have reported calls from concerned citizens who have been victims of the scam. As its making its rounds in the community, Fairbanks Chief of Police Ron Dupee is warning residents.

Anchorage resident Kirsten Larson received one of the scam calls and chose to share her experience in hopes that it could prevent it from happening to others.

On Monday, Larson received a concerning phone call from someone claiming to be Lieutenant Mack Taylor with the Fairbanks Police Department, who told her some alarming information.

“I had failed to appear at court — at federal court — for a summons that was sent to my home mid-August and that someone had signed for it,” Larson said. “I said it wasn’t me, I’d never received anything like that, do you have the correct address? And he cited off my home address.”

Larson was asked to pay a fine or they would “send the authorities.” Eventually she hung up on the caller, but the experience left her shaken up — and extremely worried she may be going to jail. Larson said the scammer called her back and the number that appeared on her phone was that of the Fairbanks Police Department.

“It was very upsetting. I was super stressed about it, thought ‘what am I going to do if I have to go to jail — I have to work all week’,” Larson said.

According to Chief Dupee, the scammer will claim they have a warrant for an arrest, a subpoena or some other court order that requires them to pay a certain amount of money over the phone. The caller will then proceed to threaten to arrest the victim if they do not pay the fine.

Dupee says during the scam call, there should be some apparent red flags that the caller is impersonating someone at FPD.

“No police department in the nation is going to take a payment over the phone, that’s not the way that we operate,” Dupee said.

Chief Dupee says if the call seems sketchy, hang up with the individual and call your local police department — or another agency they claim to be — to see if they called you. It’s likely they didn’t.

“I called the Fairbanks Police Department,” Larson said. “I said, I don’t know who I’m supposed to talk to, but I need to know if you have a Lieutenant Mack Taylor, here’s his badge number. She said oh no, no we don’t — we get 4 to 5 calls a day about this guy.”

The dispatcher informed Larson that ‘Mack Taylor’ is a posing as a police officer, to not send him any money and to block his number. The scammer also frequently uses the name of Deputy Chief Rick Sweet in an attempt to lure money from victims as well.

Chief Dupee says the scam is not new and there are several signs to watch out for.

“Anytime it sounds fishy or it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We just recommend people double check, triple check into those calls and just verify the information you’re being provided,” Dupee said.

After her experience, Larson says to “question everything.” Looking back, there were clues throughout the phone call leading her to believe it was fake.

“If I wasn’t as savvy and able to get on things and those resources, then absolutely somebody could get fooled by this,” Larson said.

Chief Dupee says police departments will not ask you for money — that process at the FPD goes through the City Clerk, and other departments often go through the court. He says we all have to do our part to stop scammers, so it’s important to share information about these scams with friends and family.

The best way to stay informed about cyber crime or to file a complaint is at