Fraudster impersonates police chief

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Suffolk police are investigating an incident in which a caller, disguised his phone number as that of the Suffolk police chief, called someone, identified himself as the chief and demanded money.

Police say the resident was contacted by a male who identified himself as Police Chief Thomas Bennett. The suspect demanded several hundred dollars from the victim, threatening him with arrest if he did not provide it.

To make the call appear more legitimate, the caller “spoofed” the phone number of the police chief’s office, which is the number that appeared on the victim’s caller ID.

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A number of Internet sites offer the ability to spoof another’s phone number to make it appear the call is coming from a different number.

Police are alerting citizens to the incident and cautioning that Suffolk police officers do not call and solicit money. Anyone who has received similar calls should report the incident to police.

Caller ID spoofing for the purpose of defrauding or causing harm was made illegal by the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Violators are subjected to a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation.

The Federal Communications Commission provides these warnings:

4Never give out personal information in response to an incoming call, even if the person calling claims to represent your bank, credit card company, creditor or government agency.

4If you receive such an inquiry, don’t provide your personal information. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement or on the company or agency’s website to find out if the requested information is actually needed.