New phone scam uses 911 for 'call spoofing' tactic

New phone scam uses ‘call spoofing'

PORTLAND, Ore. -- 911 operators are warning of a new phone scam going around.

This one makes it looks like 911 is calling you, then someone says you'll be arrested if you don't send money. What's more, if you call back, it actually does call the real 911.

"At first it was like, okay what?! You're going to put me in jail for what? What did i do?!" Tammy Scroggins of Silverton said. She thought the call she was getting was maybe over a yellow light she ran a few weeks back.

"They said it was a warrant they had, and I needed to call the district attorney in five minutes. If I didn't, somebody was going to be picking me up and putting me in jail for six months."

It was the caller ID that really threw her. It was coming from 911.

She couldn't copy down the supposed district attorney's phone number the man's message rattled off while she was driving. So she pulled over and hit redial. It immediately called the real 911 dispatch center.

"We would never ask for personal information over the phone," said Cris DeVore of the Multnomah County Bureau of Emergency Communications. "We would never leave a voicemail that somebody has a warrant out for their arrest."

It's a clever scam to get people to wire money. KGW found dozens of call spoofing websites and apps.

For a one-time fee or a monthly subscription, callers can fake their names and phone numbers on caller ID to make them whatever they want, even disguise their voice.

Using 911 plays on your fear, and gets you to answer the phone.

"They engage people to think something is going on and catch them off guard and can start asking them questions when they're flustered and confused," DeVore explained.

And if you're like Scroggins and call 911 to double check, it's taking up a line that could have been a real emergency.

Call spoofing is an FCC violation, and according to their website a $10,000 fine if convicted, not to mention dangerous for stalking victims for example. As a home health nurse, Scroggins worries about seniors.

"Seniors will immediately think they have to follow what's going on over the phone to them," she said.

Police say these type of scammers are typically overseas and rarely ever caught.


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