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Who’s calling? Could be a scammer

Who’s calling? Could be a scammer


POSTED February 25, 2014 4:46 p.m.

Local law enforcement is warning that the ringing telephone may be a harbinger of some crooked cons trying to weasel into people’s wallets.

In recent months there has been an uptick in con artists using the telephone as a means to scam people out of their money.

One scam here in Turlock involves the caller telling the person a loved one has been arrested and bail money is needed. The caller pretends to be a family member, but doesn’t give a name, instead relying on the victim to supply a name in their confusion as to who is calling them.

The caller, in the guise of a loved one, requests a money order be sent to pay for a bail.

A similar scam has been reported to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department in which a caller tells the victim a fine needs to be paid to spare a loved one from jail.

The callers have identified themselves as Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies and state money is needed to keep a family member out of jail.

In one case, scammers called the victim on the phone and initially identified themselves as a lawyer representing the Social Security Administration. They told the victim that a family member had committed fraud and needed to pay a fine in the amount of $1,500 in order to avoid going to jail. 

The victim became suspicious and hung up the phone. The suspects called back and a female with an accent told the victim she worked out of the sheriff’s office on Hackett Road. She threatened the victim saying they were going to come and arrest the family member at their place of employment. The suspect’s call was disconnected and when she called back again, the caller ID displayed a number out of Seattle, Wash.

A Google search of the phone number (206) 708-2849, turned up multiple postings about fraud linked to this number. 

Law enforcement is not working with the Social Security Administration on fraud related cases and that if anyone is contacted by someone identifying themselves as a deputy sheriff or Sheriff’s employee, people should ask for a full name, title/rank and department ID or badge number. People can also call the number back using a published public telephone number and ask to speak with the individual who called.

The Modesto Police Department reports the “IRS telephone scam” continues to victimize area residents. The scam consists of an “agent” calling victims saying they owe money to the IRS.  The “agent” demands the money be paid promptly by a pre-paid debit card.  If the victim refuses, the “agent” threatens to call the police to have the victim arrested. 

Another telephone scam the Federal Trade Commission has been warning people about of recent is the “one-ring” cell phone scam. Scammers use auto-dialers to call cell phone numbers across the country and let the phone ring once, which is enough for a missed call message to pop up. The hope is that the individual will return the telephone call, allowing the scammers to put the call on hold and rack up a hefty amount in per-minute charges, as well as a likely international call rate.

The calls are from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they’re from inside the U.S., but actually are associated with international phone numbers — often in the Caribbean. The area codes include: 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

The FTC warns people to not call the number back. Victims of the scam can file a complaint with the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint-ftc.

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