A hot tip to potential criminals: if you decide to admit to a felony while on a recorded line with police, make sure you’re far out of reach while you do it.

That was the case for a police dispatcher in Scarborough, who followed up on a report of a telephone scam by calling the perpetrators back.

Incredibly, someone picked up, and the woman on the other end of the line could not have been more polite.

Scarborough public safety dispatcher Artie Green called the toll-free number. The woman who answered identified herself as being from Central Maine Power Co.’s “disconnection and billing department.”

“You called a local business here threatening them with power disconnection (unless they gave you) money,” Green said. “That’s not how Central Maine Power operates in the state of Maine.”

The woman barely pauses.

“Well sir, we don’t have to operate the way they operate,” she said, “because this is a scam.”

In an interview Tuesday, Green said that he could hardly believe what he heard.

“I was certainly taken aback, like anyone else,” Green said. “She admitted it, just as plain as day.”

Neither could Attorney General Janet Mills, whose office fields a few thousand complaints about such phone scams each year.

“It’s amazing, it’s so brazen,” said Mills, after listening to a recording of the call posted on the Scarborough Police Facebook page. “You know they’re offshore somewhere, playing it up, figuring they’re above the law. To some extent, they’re right.”

Prosecutions of such scammers are nearly impossible.

Mills could recall only a single case in which her office was able to forwarded information to authorities in Georgia, where a scammer was apparently calling from.

But more often, perpetrators are far away in jurisdictions beyond the reach of any U.S. courts. The scammers also use methods to obscure the true origin of their calls, electronically “spoofing” caller identification systems to read as if the calls are actually originating from a utility company, the Internal Revenue Service or any number of agencies. A spokeswoman for CMP said the company has dealt with these scams since the summer of 2012, but have not seen a big increase recently.

Across the state, between Dec. 1, 2014, and Dec. 1, 2015, Mills’ office received 3,176 complaints about such scams, an uptick from 2014, when 2,516 calls were reported. Most of the scams mirror the structure or premise of the one recorded in Scarborough, she said. A pushy caller asserts some vague authority, claims money is owed, and insists on immediate payment.

Green, for his part, tried to push back during his call with the polite scammer.

“I would probably suggest that you cease calling any residents or businesses in Scarborough,” he said.

Apparently unfazed, the woman informs him that she simply trying to meet her call quota.

“We have a couple of thousand dollars to make today,” she said. “We cannot stop, sir.”

Green takes it a step further.

“You do realize you just said you’re operating a scam and calling local businesses trying to solicit money inappropriately and illegally,” he said. “You do realize that, correct?”

The woman is as chipper as ever.

“Most definitely, sir!”

Green asks if she will stop.

“No sir, we will not stop,” she said. “Merry Christmas!”

Rarely does the phone number used by scam perpetrators remain active long enough for authorities to reach them, and rarer still will someone openly admit to wire fraud. Not long after Green hung up, the number he used to reach the woman went dead.

Green has no idea where the woman had been calling from, and suspected the call was bounced around the world to disguise the true geographic origin.

“I’m sure she was in a much warmer place than we are,” Green said.