By Joe Beck
Front Royal police issued a warning Friday about an organization that they suspect of attempting to bilk senior citizens through fraudulent telephone solicitation.
Chief Norman Shiflett said in a news release that caller ID will display "Police Protection" with a number similar or identical to 727-862-5300. Shiflett said police have traced the number to a profit-based fundraising outfit in Florida.
The callers give a sales pitch intended to mislead the recipient into believing he is being contacted by a local law enforcement agency asking for donations, Shiflett said.
"The Front Royal Police Department is in no way associated with the soliciting group," he said.
Shiflett said the callers will ask for credit card or debit card information if the recipient of the call agrees to make a donation. Shiflett said an initial investigation revealed that the group behind the calls "targets elderly citizens and uses misleading tactics to obtain money."
In an interview Friday, Shiflett said several residents alerted police to the solicitation.
"Two elderly people called in and asked us if the Police Department was doing solicitation and our dispatcher said 'no,'" Shiflett said. "They gave us a phone number, and we did a little checking, and it came back as a Florida phone number."
The number rang back to fax machine, Shiflett added.
He said no investigation has been launched because "no crime has been committed. The people who called us didn't give away their credit card number or debit card number or anything like that."
Shiflett described fraudulent telephone fundraising schemes that target the elderly as a chronic problem.
"The best advice is not to give out your credit card, bank account or Social Security information or any other information that these people want," he said. "Otherwise, they can get access to your bank account and withdraw money."
Anybody seeking additional information should call the Police Department at 635-2111.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org