Briefing Room: SBPD tips on how to spot a scam


Hi Officer Nick:

Can you tell me where I can report this scam call received today?

“Yes this is Lisa Wilson today is Wednesday the 27th and I’m not sure if you’ve spoken to an assigned agent yet regarding your available employee retention credit under the cares act but I do see your prequalification is up to $26,000 per employee with no repayment necessary due to the pandemic so I’m just gonna go ahead and keep this in pending status for you if you have about five minutes for me today give me a call back and I can go over the details with you as well as the benefits I can be reached at 855-427-8111 again that’s 855-427-8111 so I do hope to hear from you soon and have a great day…”

Thank you!


Hi Jillian,

Thanks for your email.  First, great job recognizing this as a scam!  We often don’t hear about scams until it is too late, and victims unknowingly send their hard earned money to criminals.  Once that happens, there’s not much we can do about recovering the money, especially because at lot of these scammers are overseas.  The best bet is to recognize that it’s a scam, and cease any further communication.  So great job!

The United States Federal Trade Commission has a lot of really good information about phone scams.  Their website contains a lot of really good information on phone scams.  Here’s just a part of it:

How to recognize a phone scam

Phone scams come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways. Here’s how to recognize a phone scam.

There is no prize

The caller might say you were “selected” for an offer or that you’ve won a lottery. But if you have to pay to get the prize, it’s not a prize.

You won’t be arrested

Scammers might pretend to be law enforcement or a federal agency. They might say you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported if you don’t pay taxes or some other debt right away. The goal is to scare you into paying. But real law enforcement and federal agencies won’t call and threaten you.

You don’t need to decide now

Most legitimate businesses will give you time to think their offer over and get written information about it before asking you to commit. Take your time. Don’t get pressured into making a decision on the spot.

There’s never a good reason to send cash or pay with a gift card

Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back — by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app. Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer.

Government agencies won’t call to confirm your sensitive information

It’s never a good idea to give out sensitive information like your Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they’re with the Social Security Administration or IRS.

You shouldn’t be getting all those calls

If a company is selling something, it needs your written permission to call you with a robocall. And if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry, you shouldn’t get live sales calls from companies you haven’t done business with before.

Those calls are illegal. If someone is already breaking the law calling you, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

At the very least, it’s a company you don’t want to do business with.

For more information, visit their website

As far as reporting scams, if you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, report it at

I also suggest adding your phone number (both cell and home) to this website:  Hopefully the Do Not Call registry will help reduce the number of scam calls we receive.

Thanks again for your question Jillian.  Keep them coming Seal Beach!

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Briefing Room: SBPD tips on how to spot a scam