Police say they never contact citizens for payment for outstanding citations or civil debt, and are asking people to report any phony requests.
In some cases, a caller identifies himself as a police officer acting on behalf of "Mark Rothman and Associates" and demands an interim payment on a loan debt, threatening that otherwise a bench warrant will be issued, police said.
The caller instructs the victim to purchase a $500 Green Dot MoneyPak or Vanilla gift card or similar cash-load card and to call back with the card information, according to police.
In the scam involving unpaid traffic tickets, callers make a similar threat regarding bench warrants if the money is not received through the cash-load card process.
Other similar scam attempts have occurred via email or a pre-recorded phone call, and some calls often show a legitimate Police Department number on the victim's caller ID, police said.
The cash-load cards have been the focus of scam artists nationwide, according to police.
San Francisco police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said there have been numerous victims of the scam and they want to warn the public, "especially since they're using the premise of being associated with the SFPD."