News Column

Scammer curses James City man who won't take the bait

June 21, 2014

By Susan Robertson, The Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg



June 21--JAMES CITY -- Potentially lowering his credit card interest rate was a tempting offer for George Drummond, but the more details he heard, the less legitimate it sounded. Stranger still, the call seemingly came from his own house.

Drummond, 64 and a member of the James City County Planning Commission, said his home phone rang around 11:30 a.m. Friday, and he was surprised by the information on his caller ID.

"When I went to answer the phone, my telephone ID showed up," he said. "I thought it was a malfunction."

When he answered, a female voice asked him if he was interested in getting a better interest rate on his credit card. He pressed the required button and waited for someone to give him more information.

The man who picked up the phone sounded foreign, according to Drummond. He said the caller told him they were contacting him because they knew he carried a balance of more than $3,000 on his credit card, which Drummond noted isn't true.

When Drummond asked the caller what organization he was with, the caller told him the Credit Card Call Center. By then, Drummond said he'd assessed the offer to be a scam.

When Drummond said he wasn't interested, the caller uttered a series of expletives at him.

Maj. Stephen Rubino with James City police said he was not familiar with the scam, but he saw that Drummond had contacted the police. Williamsburg police have had no reports of the scam, according to Maj. Greg Riley.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, citizens should view phone calls about interest rate reduction with skepticism. An article on the commission's website states companies claim to be able to lower interest rates or help cardholders pay off their debt faster, but commission investigators have found people who pay for the services don't actually save promised amounts and don't pay their debt off more quickly.

A separate article on the commission's website explains "caller ID spoofing" and how it is used in scams. The practice falsifies the caller's information, allowing the person to disguise their information, according to the commission.

The commission indicates that spoofing can be used when scammers or identity thieves are seeking to obtain personal or financial information such as Social Security or bank account numbers. Spoofing caller ID information creates the appearance that someone is calling from a familiar phone number or agency, such as a bank.

Robertson can be reached at 757-345-2342.

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(c)2014 The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Va.)

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Source: Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg)