A new type of phone scam is making the rounds and its aim appears to be scaring illegal immigrants.
When Durham resident Wendy Michener answered a call from an unfamiliar number on Thursday morning, the last things she said she expected was to be threatened with deportation.
“My reaction was to call the police,” Michener said. “Robocalls are a dime a dozen but this is harassing unprotected populations. I wasn’t surprised but I was like this needs to be called out. I don’t even know why this is happening and I don’t want it to be happening, which is why I called the police department.”
Michener said the caller spoke in a man’s voice and told her that her name was on a deportation arrest list. She was asked to call them back immediately with her lawyer’s name, she said.
“The idea is just to get the word out that this is a scam,” Michener said. “Getting a robocall like this and my first reaction was that if they’re calling me then this is about as bogus as it gets. They are just calling every phone number in the book.”
An online search of the phone number returned numerous consumer complaints.
“Same as all the others,” a respondent said. “They called twice warning about financial crimes and threatening to activate an arrest warrant if I didn’t call back. Pretty despicable.”
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office had not received complaints about this scam, according to their spokeswoman. No information was available from Durham police.
The sheriff’s office previously has sent out advisories when phone scams were making the rounds.
Not all robocalls are scams, though.
Most of the robocalls Michener receives are related to credit offers, she said.
“At least once a week, if not twice,” Michener said. “It makes you worry about your credit being disturbed. Ninety percent of the time that’s what it’s about.”
Authorities say phone scammers often resurface under different names and phone numbers.
Durham County residents are encouraged to contact the Durham County Sheriff’s Office at 919-560-0900 if they receive a suspicious phone call. The public can also submit anonymous tips at email@example.com.
WHAT TO DO IF A PHONE SCAMMER CALLS
▪ Make note of the caller’s phone number.
▪ Avoid conversation and hang up.
▪ Contact the law enforcement agency in your jurisdiction.
▪ Consider blocking the scammer’s phone number to avoid future calls.