Con artists calling to advise grandparents that their grandchildren are in jail and need bail money is an old scheme, but in Williams County it — and several other schemes — seem to be getting a new twist.
Con artists are using technology to spoof Williams County phone numbers, so that it will appear that a call has come from a county official.
The exact scheme varies depending on which county office number is spoofed. The Corrections Department was one of the first known instances, and in that case, the caller advised that a family member needed money to make bond.
“It’s not actually our number being used,” Williams County Communications Officer Melody Mileur said.
The person who got the call, in that case, had the presence of mind to hang up, and called the Williams County Department of Corrections directly, to determine if the call was real.
“And that’s what we really recommend,” Mileur said. “If people receive a suspicious call from us or any other entity, they should hang up the phone and call them back directly to confirm the details of the call.”
Another scheme attempted to use the Treasurer-Recorder’s Office number to ask for a mortgage payment over the phone. And Mileur herself has been called back by someone who had just received a suspicious call using her communications number.
County officials won’t be asking for personal details over the phone, Mileur said, nor will they be asking for money in that fashion.
“If people receive such calls, they should make sure they don’t give out any personal information or payments over the phone,” Mileur said. “They should hang up and call the department back directly.”
After hanging up, if they think the call was a scam, they can dial *57 to have the phone carrier flag the suspicious call. Complaints can also be made to the FCC through the website https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us, or by calling 1-888-225-5322.
For now, Mileur said there is really nothing the county can do to prevent the calls. The county’s IT department has notified their phone provider that the calls are happening.
Meanwhile, the Williams County Sheriff’s Department on their website indicated the calls were coming from out-of-state.