'Spoofing' Scam Makes it Look Like Police Are Calling

New apps are starting to cause trouble across the country

A Strongsville woman suspected a scam when she started receiving calls about a payday loan.

But the caller ID on her phone showed the call was coming from the Strongsville Police Department.

It was not. Instead, it was a scam that's starting to show up more and more.

"There are plenty of ways out there to spoof numbers," Detective Lt. John Janowksi said. "There are even spoofing apps for smart phones."

The apps route the call through an Internet site -- or sometimes two or three sites, often reaching overseas -- to make it look like it's coming from a different number than where it originated.

So far, it hasn't been a major problem in Strongsville.

"Most of the times we've heard about it, it's kids using it to spoof their friends," Janowski said.

In the case reported to police Sept. 6, the caller wanted the woman to go to to get money she allegedly owes for a payday loan.

She didn't fall for it, even though she wondered about the police department number on her caller ID.

Janowski said no one in Strongsville has reported losing money yet because of a spoofing scam.

If they do, he said police are prepared to investigate, even though it is typically a months-long process involving subpoenas to phone companies. 

"Police departments all over the country are sending subpoenas to the phone companies, so unless it's life or death, it's going to take awhile," he said.

If it shows a second or third company is involved, that lengthens the investigation further, he said.

When in doubt about a call, check with the police department, authorities said.




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