A Real Hangup: Police Talk About ‘Alarming’ Phone Scam

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio-- There’s a new phone scam in town. Caller ID Spoofing is so convincing, one police chief is warning the public to be on guard.

“It is alarming,” said North Canton Police Chief Stephan Wilder.

He points to a recent complaint by an elderly resident. Sandra Kelley of North Canton contacted his department on Thursday, August 8.

She said a man claiming to be with the FBI called her home, saying he was working with a sweepstakes company to disperse winnings.

The self-proclaimed agent told Kelley she had won $600,000, but would need to send $1,400 to Mexico to claim her prize.

“In order to prove that this is not a scam, just for her safety, just go ahead and call her local law enforcement agency to verify that this isn’t a scam,” Chief Wilder said, describing the conversation between the caller and the woman.

Kelley called North Canton police and an officer was dispatched to investigate a possible case of telephone fraud.

“While our officer was there,” said the chief, “The call came in, actually identifying the phone number of the police department, and then it also identified the name of our detective.”

Chief Wilder said the caller, who was impersonating one of North Canton’s officers, told Kelley the FBI agent and his claims of working with a sweepstakes company were legitimate. The patrolman standing in Kelley’s home advised her otherwise.

“We just don’t want to see anything like this happen to anybody in our city,” said Chief Wilder. He asked Call for Action Reporter Lorrie Taylor to warn the public about Caller ID Spoofing.

North Canton resident, Shirley Cruciani, understands the chief’s concern. She considers herself a savvy consumer and yet, even she had no idea caller ID could be manipulated.

“Never would occur to you that it could be a false caller ID?” asked Taylor. “Oh, absolutely not, no, absolutely not, no,” insisted Cruciani.

North Canton’s chief said law enforcement would never contact the public on behalf of a company.

He recommends anyone receiving such a call contact their local police department.