The man on the other end of the line, who identified himself as a "federal officer," rattled off Krishnan's name, address, cellphone number -- and then said there was a warrant out for his arrest. The caller said police officers would arrive at Krishnan's home shortly. To avoid that, he could buy a prepaid credit card and read the number over the phone, in payment of
Personal, targeted phone scams are on the rise, hitting people around the world and sometimes convincing them to give up thousands of dollars. Krishnan, a 33-year-old cardiology fellow at the U and
But the amount of information the caller had about him -- not to mention the threat of arrest -- caught him off-guard.
"You think you're pretty savvy, but this was really good," Krishnan said. "I tell you, it was really good."
In March, the U.S.
"This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
According to the release, scammers are often armed with fake
That access to personal information "changes the game," he said, because it allows scammers to more easily convince victims that a call is legitimate.
That was the case for Krishnan. "I'm naive," he said. "I think, 'Who ... would know these numbers but the government?'"
What tipped him off, he said, was the caller's insistence that he use cash to buy the prepaid credit card. He told the caller his phone was running low on battery and hung up, then headed to the nearest police station.
Amin said people who suspect they're receiving a scam phone call should get as much information as possible from the caller, including their phone number, and try to verify it. If the information turns out not to be legitimate, he said, the recipient should contact local police and
Krishnan's incident ended at the police station, when he got another call from the same number. He handed his phone to a police officer, and the caller started asking for her badge number. When the officer told him he'd be arrested if he continued the impersonation, the line went dead.
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