Sheldon, Iowa — Telephones and their misuse are hot topics around northwest Iowa in recent days, with telephone scams, and number spoofing rearing it’s ugly head right here in our area.
A few weeks ago we told you about an O’Brien County resident who had been scammed out of more than $7-thousand dollars through a telephone scam in which she was led to believe that her grandson was in jail out east, and needed bail money. Now, there are even more scams afoot in the area.
Sheldon Police Chief Lyle Bolkema says one of them is the old IRS scam that seems to be resurrected from time to time.
Bolkema says another telephone scam involved someone who found an answering machine messsage telling them they had won a foreign lottery, but would need to pay an upfront fee in order to collect their winnings.
The Chief says that, with the publicity given to these scams, he’s disappointed that people are still falling for them.
Bolkema says the old addage holds true, if something seems to good to be true, it most likely is.
Another recent problem that has appeared is called “spoofing”. Many telemarketers are using spoofing technology so that when they call you, from wherever in the world they happen to be, your Caller ID tells you the incoming call is from a local number.
A gentlemen came to the KIWA Studios earlier this week, and related to us that he had received an automated telemarketer call, and his caller ID had read, “KIWA Radio Office”, followed by a 324-prefix phone number. That 324-number listed was one that has NEVER been issued to KIWA. When we tried to call that number, we got a “this number has been disconnected, or is no longer in service” message. One of our staff received a similar automated telemarketing call on their cell phone Thursday morning, with a 324-prefix phone number showing up on Caller ID, and when immediately calling that number back, also got a disconnection message.
We asked O’Brien County Attorney Micah Schreurs if “spoofing” a phone number was illegal. Schreurs replied that he didn’t know for sure, he said he had never dealt with such a case. He said he thought it MIGHT come under the heading of “Fraudulent Practices”, but he couldn’t say for sure.
While spoofing may or may not be illegal, one thing is for certain……it’s extremely annoying.