Gilroy Police Department has received several calls regarding a very disturbing telephone scam.
Over the last week, phone scammers have targeted three Christopher High School teachers. In each case, the scammer called the classroom landline phone number. Here are some basic facts about the calls:
• Calls came in between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
• In all three calls, the caller was a female who was crying who identified herself as a family member
• In two calls, the caller said she was their daughter
• In another, the caller claimed to be the sister. This call was immediately disconnected by the recipient
• In both calls the caller said they were in an accident at Walmart
• When the call recipient hung up to go to Walmart, a male subject called back on the same line
• In at least one call the male identified himself as a police officer
• The male then tells the recipient that their daughter is either “detained” or “in trouble”
• The caller attempts to get personal information by asking the recipient to confirm the daughter’s name and birthdate
• The caller also asks for the recipients cell phone number
• When the recipient becomes suspicious, the caller becomes angry and uses a lot of profanity
• In one call the male caller told the recipient that her daughter was “carjacked” and she was being held for ransom
• When the recipient attempted to stall, the caller said, “You just signed her death warrant” and the call was disconnected
• In the second call the male caller told the recipient he needed $2,000 and asked if she could “help him out”
o When the recipient continued to question, the caller said, “You can find her yourself” and the call was disconnected
• Both calls were identified as coming from a Mexico phone number (different numbers) through caller ID
• Both recipients described the male caller as having a southern accent.
Fortunately in each case, the callers identified it was a scam before they provided any personal information or money.
Phone scams are becoming more common. In most cases, the scammers are not in the area or even the country. These criminals use the internet and social media sites to obtain as much personal information as possible. They use this information to create false validity to their claims of kidnappings, tragic accidents, and other situations where they solicit money or personal/financial information.
Tips to avoid social media scams
• If you do not recognize the phone number displaying on your caller ID do not answer the phone. If someone wants to talk to you, they will leave a message.
• Be careful of what you post on social media websites like Facebook. People tend to post more than they should, leaving you vulnerable.
• Set your profiles to private and restrict your social media contacts to people you know personally.
• Don’t fill out every field on your social media profile such as your phone number and home address – including these details increases the chance of identity theft.
• If you receive a call from someone stating they kidnapped a family member, hang up immediately and call the family member.
• If you are unable to get a hold of the family member, call the police.
• Do not send money or purchase re-loadable cards at the scammer’s request or read the numbers off of the back of the re-loadable cards.