A Maine man recently learned through a harrowing experience with a scammer not to trust caller ID — and it’s a lesson that cost him $9,000, according to police.
According to a Feb. 7 statement by the Bangor Police Department, a local man got a phone call and the info that flashed across his caller ID showed it was coming from local law enforcement. He answered.
On the other line was a person claiming to be a lieutenant with the Bangor Police Department, who told the man that someone had forged his signature and used his identity to be granted release from custody, police said. The problem could be cleared up in one simple way: depositing $9,000 into a local Bitcoin kiosk, the caller said, according to police.
The man agreed to do so.
Unfortunately, the “lieutenant” on the phone was not a member of the police force, but a scammer trying to make a quick buck, police said.
There were other instances of people getting these calls in the area, police said, adding that another man reported getting a similar phone call but didn’t fall for the ploy.
According to the police, there is ”little hope” of recovering the man’s $9,000.
Schemes like this rely on what the FCC calls caller ID spoofing.
“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity,” the FCC said.
“Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust”, the FCC said.
Faking caller ID information is not hard to do, “so don’t trust your caller ID to verify that a call is authentic,” police said.
According to police, it only takes a few extra steps to keep yourself safe from a scam like this one.
“If you have even an inkling that a caller from a police department is not on the up and up, hang up the phone and call your local department using the public number, not the phone number that someone provides for you to check,” the department said.
The FCC suggests that if you get a phone call from someone ”who says they represent a company or government agency,” verify that they are who they say they are. Either hang up and call the organization’s listed number, or look to make sure you received a written statement in the mail prior to the call. And never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, or other identifying information, the FCC said.
Regardless, “use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately,” the FCC said.
Police encouraged people to be skeptical, careful and savvy.
“We will NEVER call you asking for money to clear up a warrant,” they said. “We do not use Bitcoin, but scammers do.”