Impostor scams have long been among the most lucrative for scammers.  While there are many variations of this scam, the most common variations have involved scammers calling their intended victims on the telephone posing as some governmental agency such as the IRS, the Social Security Administration or your local police department  The scammer then, under a wide variety of pretenses, demands an immediate payment by gift cards, credit card or wired funds. Being asked to pay by gift cards is a definite indication that the call is a scam since no governmental agency requests or accepts payments by gift cards.   Alternatively, the scammer demands the victim supply the phony governmental agent with personal information such as your Social Security number which will then be used for identity theft purposes.

Recently the Brookline, Massachusetts Police Department reportedon its Instagram account about a woman receiving a telephone call that her Caller ID indicated was from the Brookline Police Department.  The person calling identified himself as “officer Turner” and told her that her bank account had been hacked and asked for her bank account information.  Fortunately, the savvy Brookline citizen recognized that this did not seem legitimate, hung up the call and then called the Brookline Police Department who informed her that the call was a scam, that there was no Officer Turner and that no police officer would ask her for personal financial information over th phone.

TIPS

As I have often reminded you, through the simple technique of “spoofing” it is very easy for a scammer to manipulate your Caller ID to make a call coming to you appear legitimate when it is not.  Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Never provide personal information to anyone who calls you unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate.  In the case of this kind of impostor scam, the intended scam victim did the right thing in terminating the call and calling the real police department.

In its Instagram post the Brookline Police Department, referring to the Tom Hanks movie “Turner and Hootch,”  noted with tongue in cheek,  “At this time we are unable to connect you with Officer Turner, nor can we recommend that you watch this film.  Tom Hanks, we forgive you, but don’t ever do this to us again.”

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