Lee County warning of spoof phone calls

CREATED Dec. 18, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - A bold scamming scheme has come to the attention of the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

This incident involves caller ID spoofing and in this instant, the intended victim did not fall victim to the scam, despite the fact he knew personal information about her.

According to the victim, her phone rang and the caller ID displayed the name Lee County Government and the phone number of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (239-477-1000).

The person on the line stated “there was a federal judgment against her and she needed to call Officer Tom O’Brien at 347-828-8460, right away.” When the victim called the number, the phone was answered, “Federal Investigations, how do I direct your call?” The victim asked for Officer O’Brien and was then connected to a man who told her she was under investigation and if she did not pay a fine immediately, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

The man knew the victim’s social security number, birth date, and the name of her financial institution; as well as private information known only to a handful of people. The victim refused to go along with the scam, hung up the phone and called the Sheriff’s Office.

In this scam, the con-artist made use of certain applications or special internet-based caller ID spoofing service providers, that deliberately falsifies or masks the name and/or telephone number they are calling from and instead, enters the phone number he wants to masquerade as calling from.

In this particular case, the Sheriff’s Office phone number was chosen by the caller to trick the victim into thinking the call was actually coming from a legitimate government agency.

"This is a particularly deceitful scam and residents of Lee County should be aware that our office would never call consumers and ask for money or threaten arrest if they do not provide their credit card or bank account number,” said Sheriff Mike Scott. “It’s important to realize you can no longer rely on the caller id system when determining whether a call is legitimate or not.”

If you have questions about this Fraud Alert, or if you have received a call and would like to report it, please contact the Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 258-3292.