When you purchase a Magic Jack, allowing you to make and receive VoIP phone calls, you can choose a telephone number from almost any area code. One state attorney general says that feature is being exploited by scammers who want to hide their location.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says his office has received reports of a scam that combines the long-existing “emergency” and “phone spoofing” scams.
In the emergency scam, the caller leads you to believe that there is some existing emergency that requires you to immediately wire money to handle it. Phone spoofing disguises the number from which you are actually receiving a phone call.
“The most recent case reported to us was from a Madison, Miss., couple trying to verify information, “ Hood said. “The caller used a 407 area code and claimed to be an ‘Officer Jack’ from Orlando, Florida. He told the female there was a warrant out for her arrest and she would be picked up the next day if she did not pay to settle the charge. She and her husband were smart to verify before panicking.”
Just a scam
As it turned out in the Madison case, there was no warrant and the phone number taken from the couple’s caller ID was registered to Ymax Communication, also known as Magic Jack, a legitimate Internet based phone business.
Hood said the con-artist was using Magic Jack to conceal the fact that he was actually calling from India. When contacted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Magic Jack officials immediately responded to requests for more information, helped verify the scam, disconnected the phone number and marked it with fraudulent behavior in the company’s system.
“The bad guys like to use legitimate businesses to perpetrate their crimes,” Hood said. “Your best defense is to keep your guard up and verify all information before panicking and wiring money, most of which ends up overseas and virtually impossible to get back.”
Other tips to guard against this scam:
- If someone mentions there is a warrant out for your arrest, verify by contacting your local law enforcement agency or the alleged law enforcement agency to confirm.
- Do not depend on caller ID to confirm the caller’s information.
- Know that law enforcement agencies do not accept wired money, only cash and bonds. Never wire money to anyone who is alleging arrest, warrants or the like.