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Scammers are calling residents pretending to be D.C.-based officials and asking them to wire money to satisfy an unpaid ticket, bill, or loan, the Metropolitan Police Department said today.

According to MPD, the scammers often say they are a detective with “financial crime unit” of the Metropolitan Police Department or an IRS agent. Several of the complaints lodged with MPD have come from people outside the District.

The scammers use Voice over Internet protocol services like Magic Jack to make calls through a computer network, which means that even though the calls appear to be local, they are typically coming for overseas.

They ask for the money to be transferred through Western Union, MoneyGram, or Greendot “MoneyPaks,” and since the money is being transferred overseas, police cannot investigate the crime, according to a press release.

MPD advices the public to ask questions if they are being prompted for money and says “any time that someone you don’t personally know asks for any type of wire transfer, there is a 99% chance IT IS A SCAM.”

If you’ve been ensnared in such a ruse, MPD asks you to contact its Financial Crime and Fraud Unit at (202) 727-4159 or mpd.fraud-unit@dc.gov.

Photo of phone via Shutterstock