W.T. Police warn Islanders about spoof calls

Island residents have been hit by spoof scammers.

The West Tisbury Police Department warned Islanders in a Facebook post about a scam that uses the department’s own phone number. 

“This is a scam called spoofing, where someone calls you and it looks as though the police department is calling, because our number shows up,” the post states. “These individuals have been telling residents that they are with the Social Security office, and that multiple accounts have been opened in their name around the world. They then state that you have a warrant for your arrest. This is not true, and you shouldn’t divulge any information.” 

West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone said spoofs are a common occurrence, and make up a large portion of the “fraudulent activities” the Island’s police deal with. However, this call was concerning because it used the department’s own number, so the announcement was made to raise awareness. “It’s a concerning thing,” Mincone said. 

If the police do have a real warrant, “we will ask you to come to the station and discuss it or to go to court and resolve the matter,” according to the announcement. Those who received similar calls and are unsure about the validity are invited to stop by the station for clarifications. 

“We have other means to reach out to citizens in the community, without using scare tactics,” Mincone said. 

For people who want to learn more about fraudulent activities and how to avoid them, Mincone suggests visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s web page about scams


  1. We’ve had a number of calls from people at “police” departments or associations representing the police asking for donations. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a list of which ones are real and serve the island community?

    • Jim– I have also received some of these calls.
      I have researched them—Most are frauds that actually do give about 5% of the money they raise to legitimate police related causes.
      if you get a call from one of these fraudsters, hang up, or better yet, thank them for reminding you to donate to your local police or fire department and, donate some money to your legitimate local agencies.
      I look at it through the lense that these scumbags are reminding us to support our local police and emergency services.

      • Years ago, I had a small fire in my basement that the fire department showed up for and put out .
        I donated about 2 weeks worth of my pay to them.
        Taxes cover a broad spectrum of things.
        For instance, my taxes funded a 20 year long war in Afghanistan and an 8 year long involvement in Iraq.
        They also paid for that ineffective boondoggle of a wall on the southern border,as well as a political stunt by a tin horn governor.
        I didn’t support any of it.
        These calls are a scam– but I think you are wrong in your suggestion to not donate to the police.
        Do you not see the irony that it is the police that are warning us about this ?
        They serve us well, and need all the help they can get.

  2. I was contacted 6 months ago from a person who said he was Sargent… representing the Police Benevolent Society and asking my financial support. They wanted my credit card over the phone, which I refused, asking instead to have them send me information about this in the mail. They balked saying they needed to do it over the phone…so I hung up. I am now getting no less than 5 calls every single day on my cell phone from the same people. And they use different phone numbers, but always with New York State area codes like (212), (914) and (646)

  3. The phone rings. The caller addresses me by my first name with the feigned good cheer and sincerity I’d associate with a used car salesman trying to sell me a Ford truck retrieved from Texas flood waters.
    Nelson, how ya doin? Look, I’m with the so-and-so police association, and I’m callin’ you today to see if you can help out our local police officers. Just a small donation.
    He ticks off specific dollar amounts.
    It would mean a lot to the guys. Whatever you think you can manage. What can I put you down for?
    In my experience, the script is pretty much always the same — a request to help first responders, police, fire fighters … The caller may imply that he is a member of the organization without actually saying so, which would be a violation of state law.
    There are generous people who readily contribute. I am not one of them. I know that in most cases, the caller is a professional solicitor and that the lion’s share of every contribution goes to the solicitation company. I don’t like it when public safety agencies (sheriff?) allow a paid hawker to trade on their public goodwill for a paltry return on the dollar.
    It is very annoying to jump up to answer the phone only to be met by a professional pitch. But I have more time on my hands now. I have turned calls from professional solicitors into a form of entertainment — make someone trained to keep me on the phone hang up on me. Any organization that references police chiefs is a dead giveaway.
    $50, $100, $200 — So what can we put you down for Nelson?
    $10,000. I want to give you $10,000.
    Stunned silence followed. The caller repeated his script and detailed the contribution amounts. I imagined he was having a mental short circuit and didn’t know how to respond to my offer.
    No, no. You didn’t hear me. I want to give you $10,000. In cash. But you have to come here and pick it up. Or where can I meet you?
    Silence. He hung up. What fun.

  4. Good one Nelson!
    I was getting these calls constantly on my landline from Andrew and some other moron looking for money using the same introduction. After asking them politely several times to take me off of their calling list, I opted for No More Mr. Nice Guy. I would interrupt their introduction by saying, “I have a certain set of skills, and if you EVER call this number again, I WILL hunt you down and make certain that you will regret having ever dialed my number.”
    That worked for a few months, but then it started up again. Then I tried using a feeble, quivering voice asking if he would like my social security number or bank account number. That totally flustered them, and to their credit, they didn’t take me up on that, but then they would persist, and I would launch into the Liam Neeson spiel, and they would hag up on me.
    Finally a caller simply agreed to take me off of the list, and now the phone rings twice and stops. I haven’t been bothered for a couple months now.
    THIS idea of turning the table on these people is priceless. Inform them that you are homicide detective so and so and that they have called the number of a house where a murder has just taken place, and that they have now become part of the investigation. Inform them that the phone has already been traced, and that hanging up would get them them into a whole world of trouble. Then place them on hold, and go to the beach.

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