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Police warn about spoof and scam phone calls

One way local police say scammers are taking advantage of folks is through caller ID spoofing, and they’ve seen it happen with smaller local retail busine...
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Local police warn spoofing scams are happening in Huntsville targeting retail businesses, and they say smaller retail businesses can be at risk. It can happen through email and caller ID spoofing, as scammers try to get employees of retail businesses to pay up.

Here’s how it can look: A scammers sends an email to an employee that looks legitimate– like it has been sent from a boss or leader within the company– and they’re asking the employee to transfer or send money. Caller ID can also be disguised to look like someone– again a boss or leader in the company– is calling– when in reality, it may be a scammer.

Lt. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the Huntsville Police Department, says Caller ID spoofing is happening in Huntsville and folks should be aware. He shares about a recent incident where a teen got spoofed while at work.

“In this particular case, it was a very very young person, 17 or 18 years old, that took a call,” said Johnson. “That number was spoofed. The number appeared to be the manager owner of the business as he or she recognized it, so that elevated the sense of urgency to do what the caller requested them to do.”

In this case, the caller wanted the teen employee to buy gift cards.

“They called near the close of business, requesting that they get cash from a register or safe– requesting them to take that cash, go buy some gift cards, and then call me back– I need those gift card numbers,” said Johnson. “But it was that sense of urgency that was placed in that young person to do this that the business ended up losing money that evening.”

This type of scam is something many larger companies are educating employees about– how to recognize these types of calls and emails and how to respond. Johnson says smaller companies that don’t train employees on this could be more susceptible.

“The best rule of thumb to remember is that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Just do some double checking,” said Johnson.

If you get a suspicious request via email or phone call asking for money, check it out. Ask your boss about it first.

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