Fake ‘trooper’ scamming peninsula residents

KENAI — Alaska State Troopers are warning Kenai Peninsula residents to be aware of a scam in which a caller pretends to be a trooper.

Recently, a number of people have reported that someone claiming to be an officer named Trooper Turnbull has been calling Alaskans and saying they have outstanding arrest warrants and need to pay to have them cleared. The caller then often asks the person to purchase a prepayment card and read the numbers to him over the phone, which can’t be traced or undone, said Trooper Ryan Tennis of the Soldotna post. There is no Trooper Turnbull, he said.

Some victims are losing hundreds of dollars — he said one victim lost about $1,500, while others have lost around $900, and there’s essentially no chance to get the money back, he said.

“It’s coming up to Christmas — that’s pretty devastating for people,” he said. “That’s a (Permanent Fund) Dividend.”

The victims he has spoken to say there are red flags throughout the conversation that should have tipped them off that it was a scam — for instance, “Trooper Turnbull” pronounces Kenai and Soldotna incorrectly, Tennis said. The scammer also works to keep people on the phone so they don’t have the chance to call and verify with anyone else about the warrants, he said.

The scam has been going on around Alaska since at least November 2015 to victims all over the state, according to an Alaska State Troopers Facebook post from Nov. 20, 2015. Alaska State Troopers will never ask for payment over the phone, nor would they ever negotiate for payment in lieu of an arrest, according to the post. Reports of similar scams, sometimes called “arrest warrant scams,” have circulated all over the country for several years.

Tennis encouraged people to at least Google the situation or check social media to see if someone else has experienced a similar scam. Any active warrants can also be found on Courtview, Alaska’s public online court information system.

“(People) can look their own name up in Courtview,” he said. “It’d show up on our system. Don’t just send money.”

People who receive the calls should pay attention to the red flags and always call a second source to verify if they think they are being scammed. Other types of scams, such as the Publishers Clearinghouse, require people to submit payment to “unlock” money the scammers say they have won in a contest, another warning, Tennis said.

Alaska State Troopers don’t keep a running list of ongoing scams, but they can help people with information if other have reported a similar scam.

• Elizabeth Earl is a reporter for the Kenai Peninsula Clarion and can be reached at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, addressing a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Tuesday,
What sunk an icebreaker in Juneau at the last moment?

Sullivan, in a “bit of hearsay,” blames last-minute swap for border funds by still-unknown person

Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier, in Lake Argentina, at Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. As glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes, 15 million people across the globe live under the threat of a sudden and deadly outburst flood, a new study finds. (AP Photo / Francisco Munoz)
Study: 15 million people live under threat of glacial floods

More than half of those are in just four countries: India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File 
A porcupine dines in mid-August near the Mendnehall Glacier.
On the Trails: Putting a finer point on porcupines

Plants such as roses and devil’s club aren’t the only prickly ones…

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Tuesday. The Republican senator, appearing on the same day as Democratic President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech (and thus absent from it), criticized the administration on issues ranging from drugs to opposing resource development in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sullivan applauds, denounces feds in speech to Legislature

Senator praises ferry funds and monitoring of China’s balloon, fears Biden limiting oil project.

Members of the Juneau Police Department pose for a group photo during the annual JPD awards ceremony on Monday. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
JPD honors officers in annual award ceremony

The late Chief Pat Wellington presented with legislative memoriam.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Edward Richards, left, a high school student in the Sitka School District, talks about the lack of mental health services in Alaska’s public schools as part of the testimony also offered by district Superintendent Frank Hauser, center, and student Felix Myers during a Senate Education Meeting on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. The committee is proposing a 17% increase in the state’s school funding formula, which was remained essentially flat since 2017.
School’s in at the Capitol

Students and education leaders from around state make case for more classroom cash.

Most Read