Scammer identifies as retired Fitchburg police department member in calls to Madison therapists, police say

Fitchburg Police Squad Car (1)

FITCHBURG, Wis. — Fitchburg police are investigating after several Dane County residents reported Wednesday receiving a suspicious phone call from someone identifying themselves as a member of the Fitchburg Police Department.

According to an incident report, the recipients of the calls reported the caller had identified themselves as Sgt. Thomas Schmit of the Fitchburg Police Department. The calls originated from a 608 area code and the caller provided the same number to call back on, but police said the number is not associated with the City of Fitchburg.

The report said the calls appeared to be a common phone scam in which the caller states the call recipient has a warrant for their arrest after failing to appear for a court case.

But police said Wednesday’s calls were unique for several reasons, including the fact that the caller searched for and used the name of an actual department employee. Officials did say Sgt. Schmit is a retired department member. Police also said all three recipients of the scam calls were Madison area therapists, but the report said it is not believed the therapists were targeted for any information specific to their practices.

Police noted in the release that law enforcement officials will never call a person and request financial information or payment to avoid arrest. Scam calls as such should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and do not need to be reported directly to local law enforcement.

Police said scams can be prevented by trusting your instincts, never giving out personal information over the phone, not opening e-mails from unknown senders, and hanging up the phone if it is believed to be a scam.

A full list of scams and fraud prevention resources can be found on Fitchburg police’s website.