Police urge residents to be wary of caller ID spoofing scams

BEEVILLE – Police here are urging residents to be vigilant after receiving a report that someone used the Beeville Police Department telephone number to scam them out of money.

Police Chief Robert Bridge said June 18 that the victim reported receiving a call in which the caller ID displayed the phone number 361-358-8100, which he recognized as belonging to the police department.

“That has been the police department’s number probably since before I was born,” Bridge said. “Many people, especially a lot of the older generation, know that number.”

The victim said the caller represented themselves as a Beeville police officer, who was calling on behalf of the Social Security office and that the recipient of the call had an outstanding arrest warrant. The caller said the matter could be resolved if the victim purchased a cash card and gave him the number over the phone. Bridge said the victim complied.

“It was a few hundred dollars,” the chief said. “Thank God it wasn’t more than that.”

The Federal Communications Commission warns against the practice of spoofing, in which a caller will deliberately falsify the information transmitted to a caller ID device in an effort to disguise their identity. Scammers will use a local number or one that belongs to a company or government entity that someone might know and trust as a means of stealing money or personal information. Under the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, the practice is illegal and violators are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that in 2019, there were 13,873 people who reported being victims of government impersonation scams with losses totaling more than $124 million.

Bridge reminds residents that the police department does not make telephone calls to remind people about arrest warrants. Furthermore, he said, the Social Security office does not threaten anyone with jail time or demand  money via gift cards.

Anyone who receives such a call is urged to hang up or refer them to the police department, Bridge said.

“Don’t give out any account numbers, any information, unless you know them,” he said.

William J. Gibbs Jr. is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 361-358-5220.

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