The Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued a statewide media release warning citizens of a telephone scam involving “spoofing,” or the purposeful display of a misleading telephone number on the victim’s caller ID.
According to the release, victims are receiving calls from unknown sources claiming to represent the GBI, and demanding payment for a debt to the IRS or to a specific college.
The residents are threatened with imminent arrest if the money isn’t sent, and the scam is made to seem more real through the illegal display of the agency’s actual contact number, (404) 244-2600.
“The GBI does not contact individuals for debt collection,” said Nelly Miles, public affairs officer for the GBI. “You can’t always trust the caller ID, and if you didn’t initiate the call you should end the conversation and call back on a number you know to be correct.”
Miles said that while the investigation has continued for around a month, the identity of the offenders is unknown, as well as whether the calls originate within the United States or from foreign countries. Assuming progress in putting down the scam, Miles said the penalty for the crime would likely vary according to circumstances, and would not be determined by the GBI.
“Our role is to investigate and hopefully to discover who the offenders are,” Miles said. “When suspects are arrested they’ll be turned over appropriate prosecuting agencies.”
According to the website of the Federal Communications Commission, www.fcc.gov/spoofing, it’s unlawful for any person or entity to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value, and violators are subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for each offense.
The law also requires telemarketers to display a telephone number consumers can call during regular business hours to ask that they no longer be called.
The FCC suggests residents not give out personal information in response to unverified callers, who often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors or government agencies for the purpose of obtaining account numbers, Social Security numbers or other identifying information.
Complaints may be filed with the FCC by calling 1 (888) 225-5322.