Officers warn of phone scams
By Nelson Bland
Published in News on October 1, 2013 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- A Mount Olive man was conned out of $900 in a telephone scam last week, and local police are warning citizens about receiving calls in which they are told they must send money to a given address by using a "Green Dot Card" number or they will be arrested for payday loan fraud.
Mount Olive Police Chief Brian Rhodes said the victim sent the cash because he had borrowed money through a payday loan years earlier and had repaid it, but thought there might have been some type of error.
Sgt. Jason Hughes said the victim sent the money via a Green Dot Card number to the caller. The victim offered his bank debit card or credit card numbers, but the caller refused and said it had to be a Green Dot Card number.
Green Dot Cards are legitimate financial cards that may be purchased at drug stores or other stores, Hughes said. They cannot be traced.
The victim told police he thought the call was legitimate because his telephone showed the call coming from the Mount Olive Police Department.
Rhodes said there are computerized apps and programs with which a caller can send a specified number to a telephone's caller ID.
The trick is called "spoofing," he said.
Hughes said the victim eventually went to the police station because the caller asked for more money and even asked the victim if he had a fax machine.
That is where he learned he had been fooled.
"The victim talked with us and called the scammer back and gave him the fax number for the police station. The caller was trying to get more money out of the victim, saying he now owed $1,400 because of an error the first time," Rhodes said.
He said the fax that the caller sent was obviously a fake U.S. District Court letterhead.
"The typeset was not right, lines were crooked, punctuation was incorrect and it had such phrases as 'This has landed on your doorsteps to scare your into action' which a court would not use," Rhodes said.
The phone number from which the fax originated was in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Rhodes said the scammer "did his background work" to get real names and phone numbers to make everything appear legitimate.
"I guess a third of the people who get something like this get caught up in it and will send money," he said. "We want to ask people to report any type incident like this to police and never give out Social Security, financial card or any numbers over the phone."
"We at the Mount Olive Police Department would like to make the public aware of these phone scams," Hughes said. "If anyone receives a call from someone stating they are with the police department or other law enforcement agency and telling them that they will be arrested if they do not send money to a desired location, they should not send any money but should notify police immediately."