New scheme asks residents to pay money for fake traffic violations

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new scheme is taking shape in Rhode Island, where residents are getting tricked into paying money for traffic violations they never had.

The situations usually involve callers who claim there’s a warrant out for a person’s arrest from a minor traffic violation — unfortunately victims are taking the bait and losing money.

Doug Lawyer of East Providence said his wife was targeted by a person claiming to be a police officer.

“He called her back and kept her on the phone explaining to her [that] she had a traffic citation. And she said she didn’t think she had one,” he said.

Lawyer said the caller convinced his wife that she was caught on camera running a red light and she had failed to pay her ticket. He also told her that she missed her court date and there was a warrant out for her arrest.

The caller told Lawyer’s wife that a new process was put in place so officers did not have to come to her home to serve her in person. He told her the new system was a way to save time and money.

He convinced her that she needed to pay a bond by putting money on a Green Dot money card and reading him the digits — and she did.

Consumer Guide: Avoiding Scams and Schemes »
Consumer Guide: Avoiding Scams and Schemes »

According to the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission, the callers use scare tactics to persuade callers.

But remember — in the event that a warrant actually is out for your arrest, officers will show up at your door. If someone asks you to load a Green Dot card, do not do it, especially if they ask you to read them the numbers.

Green Dot money cards or Green Pak cards are legitimate forms of payment, but only if they are for your own personal use.

In these cases, the money will likely never be returned.

Lawyer hopes that some good will come from his family’s misfortune.

“I don’t think it will ever come back but our only hope is to catch these guys and keep [them] from doing it to other people,” he said.


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