Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham is advising the public that his office does not conduct financial transactions by phone after an Eastpointe woman was defrauded by someone posing as the law enforcement official.
The woman told Eastpointe police Aug. 12 that she had fallen victim to an elaborate fraud scheme that began when she got a call from someone identifying himself as a police officer, according to the Macomb County Sheriff's Office.
The caller, who was able to ascertain the woman had previously obtained a loan, told her she was the subject of a fraud investigation. About a week later, she got another call from someone identifying himself as Wickersham. Her telephone caller identification showed the incoming call was from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, police said.
The woman was given instructions on how to make a $1,200 payment on a pre-paid card in order to avoid a criminal charge. After she made the payment, she realized it was a scam and contacted police, the Sheriff's Office said.
Authorities believe the scammers used a computer program that changes the caller I.D. number in a process known as spoofing.
Wickersham says that the public should be suspicious of callers asking for money over the phone, regardless of their number that shows up.
"Anyone who receives phone calls from persons identifying themselves as police officers and asking for money should politely ask for a return phone number, end the phone call and report the matter to the local police jurisdiction," according to the Sheriff's Office.