If phone scammers have a list of rules, you’d think one should be “Don’t call a county sheriff”.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Department is warning the public of phone scammers posing as Social Security representatives after a rash of calls have recently been reported, with Sheriff Rob McMillen being one of the recipients.
McMillen says he received a call on his personal cell phone yesterday from what appeared on the caller ID to be a local number.
“It was a familiar area code number so I thought it must be someone trying to contact me about a law enforcement matter. I answered the phone and it started out as kind of a recording. It said ‘this is Officer Michael T. Brown with the Social Security Administration. Your social security number has been compromised and we need to discuss this with you further, press one to speak with a customer service agent.”
McMillen says he knew it was a scam after hearing about the numerous calls his department had been receiving. He says he pressed one on the phone to try and gather some more information.
He says he was then connected to a man with a distinct accent who asked for his name. McMillen says as soon as he gave a fake name to the man on the phone, he immediately asked for his social security number.
The scammer told McMillen that his social security number had been compromised and he needed the number to verify he was speaking to the right person.
The scammer later told McMillen that his number had been “locked down” and he would have to provide a credit card number or bank account and routing number to initiate a payment to unlock the number.
McMillen says he played along with the scammer trying to get more information until the perpetrator threatened the sheriff with arrest.
“He started getting a little more agitated the longer I talked to him trying to get more information, and he said ‘you know I’m here to help you, and if you don’t want my help we’re just going to issue a warrant for you and the local authorities will be coming out and picking you up.’
I told him okay, you are speaking with the Sheriff in Greene County. I know this is a scam, and then all of a sudden he just went off on a ten or fifteen-second tirade with very few words that were not profane. I just kinda listened to it and chuckled a little bit and at the end of his tirade he hung up.”
McMillen says the Greene County Sheriff’s Office alone has received approximately a dozen calls in the last week from residents who have received calls like these. McMillen took to his department’s social media to warn the public about the rash of scams occurring and says don’t play along with a scammer like he did, just hang up.
He says if you do talk to them, the repercussions could be very serious.
“Definitely don’t provide these scammers with your social security number because that is going to lead to identity theft. Getting credit cards in your name and accruing debt in your name, that’s an open invitation for that.
And definitely don’t provide any financial information about yourself. Bank account numbers or debit card numbers or anything like that because they can run up some debt real quick and we will never be able to identify them.”
Jack Myers with the Social Security Office in Springfield says scammers are now even using names and badge numbers of actual Social Security workers to be more convincing. He says Social Security won’t ask for payment over the phone, and any attempt to get some type of payment is an immediate red flag.
If there is any doubt, Myers says hang up and call the social security office in Springfield at 1-877-279-2504. Suspicious calls should be reported to oig.ssa.gov.