WESTFIELD, NJ – Town residents have been plagued by a spate of so-called “spoof” calls, whereby potential scammers disguise their phone numbers showing up in would-be victims’ caller identifications.
One resident living in the 100 block of Marlboro Street received a call on Monday, from what police said, was a phony “computer service company,” which emailed the resident first, then said in a phone call that the company needed to refund the customer money.
Initial bank deposits showed in the resident’s bank account history, at which time the scammer told the person the company refunded too much money and required payment in gift cards, police Sgt. Michael Walsh said.
The scammer asked for $4,000, Walsh said. While the bank deposits promised showed in the resident’s account history, the deposits later did not go through, he said.
Police received a similar report from a resident in the 100 block of Florida Street on Sept. 14, Walsh said. The computer service company, in that instance, asked for a “refund” by money order.
Sounding off on social media this week, dozens of Westfield residents reported receiving phony calls from local exchanges, which in fact, were not what they appeared to be.
They’re not the only ones.
The Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints last year, two-and-a-half times more than it had in 2014, and a slate of law enforcement officials is lobbying the FCC for help.
The coalition of 34 attorneys general are urging the FCC to enact new rules, which would allow phone service providers the ability to block more illegal robocalls being made to unsuspecting residents, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced this week.
“One tactic on the rise is ‘neighbor spoofing,’ a technique that allows calls, no matter where they originate, to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code as the consumer,” Gurbrir said in a news release.
Scammers have found a way to evade a 2017 FCC order blocking illegal calls, he said.
“These robocalls are not just disruptive and bothersome,” Gurbrir said. “They are used to deceive the elderly and other vulnerable populations, and to facilitate scams that can result in identify theft, credit card fraud and other crimes.”
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