Police Impersonation and Extortion: Why a Tracking Device Is Important

Scams have become one of the easiest ways criminals get money out of people, from fake shopping websites to fake police trying to make money out of a terrible situation.

Criminals are now using the trusting nature of everyday roadgoers like me and you to extort money by creating fake recovery stories. The upside, though, is that families and car owners can protect their vehicles with GPS tracking solutions

This blog explains how police impersonation scams work and the steps you can take to avoid them and protect your ride.

In this article, you will:

  • Find out what police impersonation is and how to identify it
  • Unpack the psychological factors that contribute to police impersonation and crime
  • Learn tips to help you avoid extortion from fake police officers
  • See how a tracking device can help you recover your vehicle
  • Protect yourself with Cartrack GPS tracking units

Police impersonation and extortion 101

Remember when you used to play cops and robbers as children? Robbers are now pretending to be cops to extort money from vehicle owners in exchange for the release of their vehicles. Impersonating an officer of the law is one crime, and extortion is another that can be used to lure victims into providing information and giving away their hard-earned money.

Bogus officers with fake stories date back as far as the 18th Century, when criminals would pretend to be police officers so they could raid and extort innocent civilians. In our technologically advanced age, little has changed, unfortunately; criminals are still scamming people by disguising themselves as police officers and often using the anonymity of the internet and smartphones to their advantage. The hotspot for these crimes appears to be Johannesburg and surrounds, so if you reside in this area, be extra vigilant when receiving a call from a police officer.

Police impersonation: Wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Most people love a costume party where they can dress up as what they’ve always wanted to be but when that turns into criminal activity, it leads to chaos. The legal term for this is impersonation—the act of pretending to be another person for entertainment or fraud—which goes beyond a costume for a party.

Many people have fallen victim to this act mainly because they do not want to get into trouble by arguing or resisting cooperating with police officers. Historically, police officers have always been viewed as individuals the general public can trust because their job is to uphold the law, so stealing from an innocent victim by pretending to be law enforcement is one of the ultimate betrayals and may cause serious damage to the trust relationship between the victim and the police, as well as other law enforcement.

Police impersonation: Wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Extortion through police impersonation

Extortion is the practice of obtaining something, like money, using force or threat. In recent trends, criminals are impersonating police officers to hijack and force people to empty their bank accounts for their gain. This extortion can be done in two different ways, a hijacking happens, and a bogus officer pretends to have found your vehicle and calls to demand money for the vehicle’s release. Another way these fake coppers get away with scamming you is by implementing fake roadblocks. They pretend to be police officers, and they use this authority to try and take your vehicle.

Imagine leaving friends after a great braai and catch-up session, and you’re suddenly stopped by a vehicle with blue lights similar to a police van. If the person stepping out of that vehicle turns out to not be a real officer, your car and even your life may be in danger.

These criminals take you hostage and drive your vehicle to the nearest ATM. This is where the extortion comes in, they force you to enter your bank pin to access your account and withdraw all of your money. This is essentially what extortion is, a way for criminals to get a vehicle and money at the same time.

Impersonation here, impersonation everywhere

This phenomenon is not only popular in South Africa; police impersonation and extortion have gone global. India, for example, reports criminals impersonating police officers in an attempt to extort money by getting hold of a victim’s details and calling them to tell them that a package with illegal substances arrived at a police station and that a police case would be opened against the victim. Honduras also has a problem with criminals impersonating law enforcers and committing crimes. The security officials in Honduras have introduced uniforms with chips that contain the police officer’s information. These chips are hard to duplicate and make it easier to spot fake police officers.

Why are police impersonations a popular crime?

The motives behind different crimes can vary even if the main objective remains some kind of monetary or material gain. For example, some individuals are driven towards crime due to poverty, while others may just be looking for the thrill of the chase and the enrichment they get from it. Some of the main psychological reasons for extortion are:

  • Power and control: Criminals enjoy the power they have in these situations because they not only feel in control but they can get what they want by taking advantage of their victim’s fear.
  • Greed: Gluttony can somewhat drive criminals to want more out of a situation. They know that their victim might have a lot of money so they extort more amounts.
  • IntimidationSome criminals like instilling fear in people by intimidating them. This is a personal psychological issue that can only be treated by professionals.

While these reasons may not apply to every perpetrator, they shed some much-needed light on why these criminals tend to act the way they do from a deeper level. No matter the reason behind these criminals’ actions, though, there is no doubt that they always cause pain and trauma to victims.

Conquering undercover deception: How Sam lost his SUV and got it back

If you’re wondering how the day of a police impersonation and extortion victim goes, it may not be that different from yours. 

For example, a typical day for Sam starts with him stopping by the mall to do some errands and get his wife a cappuccino. However, on one fateful day, he noticed that he was being followed by a suspicious vehicle right after pulling out of the mall’s parking lot, and the assailants took his vehicle. Sam rushes to the nearest police station with the help of a Good Samaritan, who picks him up just outside the mall parking lot and gives him a lift. 

After opening a case of vehicle theft at the police station, Sam receives a call from another fake police officer claiming to have found his vehicle, telling Sam he has to meet the officer to pay for the release of his car. Sam was starting to feel uneasy about the situation and, after smelling a rat, informed Cartrack of the incident. Cartrack used their GPS tracking to locate Sam’s vehicle, and he was able to recover his car safely and expose the police impersonators with the help of Cartrack’s recovery team and the police.

Cartrack’s advanced GPS tracking to the rescue

Sam’s situation is one of smart moves and quick responses from Cartrack. The GPS tracking device that Sam had installed was the main champion in locating his vehicle and avoiding extortion from fake police officers. The use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) allows Cartrack to locate your vehicle through satellites that calculate where your vehicle has travelled and where it stops. This can save you from having to pay criminals pretending to be police officers to extort money from you. Contact Cartrack Tanzania to have a GPS tracking device installed in your vehicle and stop criminals from using you as their meal ticket.

Cartrack Tanzania: Safety for your vehicle and wallet

Our state-of-the-art vehicle tracking features are designed to help you combat theft in a country where it poses a very real threat. Whether your car is stolen, hijacked, or gone due to an attempted fraudulent police encounter, Cartrack Tanzania has the tools to enhance your vehicle’s safety.

  • CarWatch

    CarWatch is essentially the vigilant eyes you need when you’re not near your vehicle. The CarWatch feature detects unauthorised movements, letting you know about any suspicious vehicle activity. You can easily access CarWatch on the Cartrack App, and the Cartrack 24-hour control room will contact you immediately upon receiving an unauthorised movement alert. For the general safety of your vehicle, CarWatch is a feature you can’t go without.

  • Geofence

    The geofence feature uses GPS to trigger alerts when your vehicle leaves the geographical boundary you created to keep track of your vehicle’s movements. For example, if you want to take extra security steps to know your car’s movements, you can use geofencing to create specific zones and get an alert when your vehicle enters or exits these areas. Cartrack’s GPS tracking device works with geofencing to help you get alerts of your vehicle’s movements, increasing our control room’s proactive response to suspicious activity.

  • Vehicle recovery

    Locating and recovering stolen vehicles is one of our areas of expertise. Our GPS tracking system allows our vehicle recovery team to locate your vehicle even when it has crossed the borders of South Africa. Our tracking device is also tamper-proof and discreetly installed to ensure thieves and hijackers don’t locate it while being chased by one of our dedicated recovery teams.

    Cartrack Tanzania is your superhero when it comes to vehicle tracking and recovery. A GPS tracking device from Cartrack Tanzania, along with CarWatch and Geofence, can help you recover your vehicle when you are in danger of being extorted by police impersonators.

Cartrack: Safety for your vehicle and wallet

Get the ultimate protection with Cartrack Tanzania

Contact Cartrack Tanzania for a free quote and to find the best package for your vehicle and needs.

Tips to avoiding being extorted by a criminal impersonating a police officer

Let’s face it, crime is an ever-existing phenomenon in South Africa, and it is nearly impossible to run away from. Knowing your rights as a driver when pulled over by the police—fake police in this case—can help you determine the danger of the situation. Here are some tips that can help you escape from fake police:

  1. Assess the situation: Check the police officer’s uniform to see if it looks professional. There may be telltale signs like not wearing a full uniform and the absence of identification. For your safety, you may ask for their identification to determine if they are indeed employed by the South African Police Services.
  2. Do not stop at deserted areas to make a phone call: This might not seem like an issue, but thieves can see a deserted area as an opportunity to take your vehicle and extort money from you because there wouldn’t be any witnesses.
  3. Drive to your nearest police station if you are stopped or followed by a suspicious vehicle. This will allow you to get to safety if criminals are pursuing you quickly. These guys are unlikely to follow you into a police station!
  4. Press that button: Cartrack’s Panic button enables the emergency control room to contact you when you are in danger and directly communicate with Cartrack response teams along with local police to ensure a quick response.

Save your vehicle and yourself from extortion with a GPS tracking device from Cartrack Tanzania. Contact Cartrack Tanzania to have this device installed in your car and know where your car is at all times.

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