Who Spoofed the Sheriff? Audacious Phone Tricksters Use Spoof Technology to Impersonate Officers of the Law!


The most recent spate of phone scams in the United States is an ingenious one. Criminal callers are using ‘spoofing’ technology (which allows a caller to choose which number appears on your display when they call you) to make you believe they’re calling from your local sheriff’s office.

Generally, they’ll have laid their hands on some convincing personal details about you – a loan you recently took out, perhaps, or the name of someone in your family. They’ll inform you that there is a charge against you, which you can pay a fine to waive. They’ll also have done their research on the sheriff’s office in question and will often use accurate names and information to convince you of their authenticity. After all, the number on your display is definitely the sheriff’s number – why wouldn’t you believe them?!

This is a scam that is popping up all over the USA, counting victims in Pinellas County, FL, Pima County, AZ, Spokane County, WA and Macomb County, MI to name but a few. By playing on their victims’ emotions and convincing them that they’re bailing out a relative, for example, these tricksters have made people part with thousands of dollars.

User Jen tells us more about a call she received from 9164148678

A man calling himself Don Mack claiming to be an Investigator with the Kern County Arbitration Department calls to say they have sworn affidavits and will be filing charges in the morning to of theft and fraud. He throws around all of this legal mumbo Jumbo. Does not state at the beginning of the call that the call is being recorded but later when he’s telling you how favorable the judge will be (or presumably will not be) when he hears the tape of the conversation. He throws around some figures and slides in to the conversation that you can take care of it by paying fees of out of court costs of some amount. He expressed frustration with your inability to understand what he is saying when you ask questions and also advises you to get a lawyer. He claims that you’ve been “served” over the phone and that you’ve been on a warrant dialer list.

Edward B. had a similar experience with 8558506310:

They called my wife, claiming that they had an arrest warrant for me and told her I had until 5.30 pm to turn myself in or we had to pay $1.500. When she asked for what, they said for fraud but wouldn’t specify any further.

Similar scams involve scammers posing as local law enforcement agencies trying to get payment details from victims, supposedly to pay off a pay-day loan; in another case, a caller posed as a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration, telling the victim that he was under investigation for purchasing illegal substances. Often, these calls will actually be followed up by another call from the same guy, using a slightly different voice and name, claiming to be from an organisation with a higher authority and threatening you with further action.

Spoofing, with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value” is illegal under the Truth in Caller ID Act, which came into force in 2010.

Always remember that police will never ask you for payment over the phone. Hang up immediately and report the incident to the real state police if you believe that you have been called by one of these spoof callers. You can also register these incidents at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints.

Remember to share your experiences on tellows to help protect other users from these types of scams!

Be wary of suspicious callers and have a great week!

Your tellows team

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