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They come in all shapes and sizes and use any means possible first to scare and intimidate you and then to separate you from your hard earned money.
There are email scams that inform you that you’ve won big prizes or that you’ve come into a gazillion dollar inheritance, all you have to do is send some money to cover the taxes. There are phone scammers claiming to be from MicroSoft, the IRS, Medical Device Companies, you name it, they are endless.
The phone ID’s are “spoofed”, they look like a local number, maybe even that of your local police/sheriff’s office. Spoofing done in an attempt to scare you in to picking up the phone.
This scam has been around for awhile but seems to have just surfaced in my neck of the woods so it’s worth mentioning again since it’s targeted specifically at registrants. If it hasn’t gotten to your area, it probably will sooner or later so beware.
Names and addresses, it’s all there on the registry, easy pickins’ for scammers to find a registrant’s phone number.
They call your home, your caller ID identifies the caller as POLICE, SHERIFF, PAROLE OFFICER (P.O.) anything that can be viewed as a caller whose call you need to answer.
The person on the other end of the line identifies themselves as a law enforcement officer.
Then they proceed to tell you in “not a nice way”, and to try to scare the hell out of you, that you are in violation of registry requirements, that there are new laws and you my friend are now “out of compliance”.
They forcefully continue, informing you that a warrant will be issued for your arrest OR you can pay a fine and avoid all this jail-time nastiness.
Questions from the caller are usually met with insults and threats. They know you’re on the registry and they use that knowledge to their full advantage.
They proceed to give you instructions to purchase a very specific type of gift card (one that can be exchanged for cash). You are then instructed to bring the gift card to your local police/sheriff’s office and then to call a number you are given so that you can then receive further instructions on how to go about paying your fine. “Doing this” they remind you “so you will be “registry-compliant” and not hauled off to jail.”
After you make the call, you are asked for the gift card number so that your fine payment can then be loaded into the data base and you will then be “registry-compliant.”
After you give up the card number, it’s all over. The scammer hangs up and your money is gone with the wind.
There was never any warrant, you were never “non-compliant,” it was all a scam, targeted at those who need this kind of aggravation the least, registrants.
It’s easy to think perhaps that this call is legit. Laws change at a moments notice. Even when you are knowledgeable regarding the laws, being “compliant” is a gray area that no one completely understands. So if you have already fallen for one of these scams don’t feel like you should have known better, anyone can be duped by something like this. It’s this “fear factor” that the scammers count on to pull you in and there’s a little fear in all of us.
So what do you do to avoid these type calls? The easy thing to do would be “just don’t answer the phone” if you don’t recognize a name or number. Let your answering machine (if you have one) pick up the call. Then at least you can take the time to decide if it’s a real call or a scammer.
But registrants are in a unique situation since they may on occassion receive legitimate calls from Parole Officers, law enforcement or other officials.
So, to answer or not to answer, that is the question?
If law enforcement officers are legitimately trying to contact you and they can’t reach you by phone, they will find another way to get in touch with you, that’s almost certain.
So far there doesn’t seem to be any fool proof way of stopping these scammers. The DO NOT Call Registry (geez, just what we need, another registry) is of no use in these matters, they are at a loss as to how to locate the scammers who continuously change their “spoofing” names and numbers. Not answering the phone for names and numbers you don’t recognize, using answering machines to pick-up calls or blocking known scammer numbers seems like the best options for now.
This is just another example of the way that the public registry adds even more misery to the lives of registrants by allowing scammers to access information to be used against them in an attempt to extort money.
If you receive one of these “shake-down” calls, contact the police or local authorities. I know, not your favorite thing to do, have police showing up in front of your house. I understand.
But, that’s what the rest of America does when they receive similar types of scammer extortion calls and this seems to be one of those rare situations where registrants actually do have the same rights as everyone else, so call and file that police report, just like everyone else .