By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
MASON — Ingham County Sheriff Gene L. Wriggelsworth is warning residents of a phone scam where two victims have lost a total of $800.
Even though the number on your caller ID may be the same number as the sheriff’s office, do not be fooled. The suspect uses a phone application where it disguises, or uses another phone number and identity, Wriggelsworth said.
“It’s typically a male subject who has a foreign accent and he identifies himself from the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office,” Lt. Dennis Hull, of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, said. “He’s using a spoof app. It looks like he’s calling from the sheriff’s office.”
“Fraudsters are more likely to be male than female, but that’s not ironclad,”
Dr. David L. Carter, professor in the School of Criminal Justice and Director of the Intelligence Program at Michigan State University, said.
“Phone spoofing is pretty low-tech,” Carter said. “They randomly call numbers within the area code. Fraudsters know that they are playing a game of probability, that most people will not fall for the scam. However, all they need is a handful of people to fall for it and they will make money.”
When the imposture calls, he is claiming to be Lt. Hull who works for Undersheriff Allan Spyke.
“They are using my name as the supervisor of the person who is making the calls,” Spyke said.
The suspect then says the caller has missed jury duty and there is a warrant for their arrest. However, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office does not call people with warrants for their arrest, Hull said.
“The sheriff’s office number will pop up and he will say, ‘Hey, I’m Lt. Hull from the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, I want to advise you that you missed jury duty, there is a warrant for your arrest. You will be arrested if you don’t pay X amount of dollars,’” Hull said.
“Once he thinks you believe him, he is going to ask you for bank account numbers,” Hull said. “If you don’t give bank account numbers, he will tell you to go to Kroger and buy a green dot card and tell him the card information and pin number. He is going to suck all the money off that card electronically.”
Because of the spoof phone application, it is extremely hard to track the suspect, Hull said.
“We have gotten search warrants to try to find where the phone is coming out of,” Hull said. “We have had no luck. It will say the phone is being routed out of Atlanta, Georgia, but the phone was purchased out in Los Angeles, California. They’re not in either of those places.”
This is not the first time the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office has been centered in a phone scam. Other scams include the IRS and County Clerk’s office. These scams work the exact same way as the phone spoof.
“Here at the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, we investigate any and all crimes that occur here in the county and we do justice with all of them,” Hull said. “But we do not have the funds and the man power to hunt and track this guy down in Jamaica, or wherever he may be in the world, nor do we have jurisdiction.”
Any person that receives a call like this should hang up and not give them money, Hull said.