by: Diana Davis Updated:STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. —
Someone has cloned a phone number associated with the Stockbridge government to trick victims into giving out their financial information.
Stockbridge City Manager David Milliron said someone cloned the phone number for the Stockbridge municipal court to intimidate elderly victims into giving personal and financial information out over the phone.
"The callers said that they actually had unpaid tickets or warrants for their arrest and that they encouraged them to fill out an application for a payday loan," Milliron said.
Milliron told Davis some of the victims called the back the number on the phone. They were redirected to the municipal court but soon learned no one from the court had called.
"The court personnel said very quickly, 'We didn't call you.' Once we got a second call, we connected the dots that there's potential scam going on here. They were using the court telephone number to spoof the caller ID," said Milliron.
How can someone clone an official city phone? There are dozens of websites that make it easy. Users input their phone number and how they want it to appear.
"We see it more and more often used in scams to steal identity theft information," said Don Jackson, of Dell Secure Works.
Jackson said the sites began as innocent pranks as a way to fool your friends to make it look as if the White House might be calling, for example. Now criminals are using them to spoof authority figures, including banks and the government.
Some sites clone only phone numbers. Others can fake even the name associated with the number.
"People have a lot of trust in the caller ID information, and they really shouldn't trust it, because it's so easily faked," Jackson said.
Henry County police and the city have put out a warning.
Henry County police Lt. Michael Ware said, "If you do receive these calls, get as much information as you can from the person who is calling and once you get the information, call City Hall to verify that information."
The advice remains the same as always: Never give your personal information out to unsolicited callers.