Scammers posing as police strike again

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith



The Vancouver Police Department recently received its second report that a scam artist posing as someone from the agency called a local person, trying to get them to divulge personal information.

The phone number was “spoofed,” meaning it looked like the police agency showed up on caller ID, even though the call originated elsewhere. It’s one of the newer tricks scammers use to appear as though they’re from legitimate organizations.

Meanwhile, the first local couple to report being victims of spoofing are still being harassed by their scammers.

Clark County residents Susan and Vincent Baker got a call in April from someone purporting to be from the Vancouver Police Department. The caller said that an attorney from the criminal justice department in Albany, N.Y., told him Vincent Baker owed money.

But the 49-year-old doesn’t have any debt and refused to give the caller money. It was frustrating, Susan Baker said, especially because they have an unlisted number. The couple called the organizations the callers claimed to represent and were told not to give out any information. Legitimate organizations will never ask for personal information or money over the phone.

The callers even got Vincent Baker’s work cellphone. When he got a new work phone, they called the construction company he works for in Troutdale, Ore. Vincent Baker sat down with his manager to explain that he didn’t owe any money, and the company ignored the scammers as well.

“It’s affecting our nerves because every time the phone rings we don’t want to answer it,” Susan Baker said.

The calls came from about 10 different numbers, all from people pretending to be “agents with the case” or “officers of the court.” The Bakers traced one of the phone numbers to Mumbai.

Nowadays, the scam artists are making threats through email, demanding that the Bakers wire money to them. The couple isn’t sure how they found their email address.

“If they can’t get you one way they keep trying you in another way,” Susan Baker said.