Police warn of several area phone schemes

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Area police departments are investigating a widespread phone scheme targeting your wallet.

Many times, the elderly fall victim to these malicious phone calls and schemers are using sophisticated tactics make you believe them.

UMass, North Adams, and Internal Revenue Service are just a few of the police departments and government agencies warning you to be on alert.

Police at UMass say several employees have been called by the Holyoke phone number 413-535-9579.

A man claims a relative has been kidnapped or in a car crash and demands that money be wired immediately to keep the relative from being hurt or killed.

One tactic that schemers often use is called spoofing. They’re able to change their own telephone number and activate a new number that shows up on your caller I.D.

“Call the cops,” says Michael Cruz of Springfield. “Why don’t you call the relative and see if that true or not. The though of you going out to spend your own money after someone telling you that on the phone should just be a red flag.”

Police offer these tips:

  • Do not wire any money
  • Do not give out personal information
  • Do not meet the caller
  • Try to ask them probing questions that may help gather information to help police.

“Its almost like getting a phone call about your refrigerator running and you are trying to go catch it. My first instinct would be to get some information out of them and probably then just hang up and call the police,” said Logan Elkins of Agawam

Similar schemes have been reported recently by the North Adams Police Department and the IRS.

“You have to be aware of them and you have to be on top of things. They put it in the paper. They call the elderly and let them know these things are going on,” said Louise Pushkin of Northampton.

The scheme in North Adams involves threatening people to buy reloadable debit cards for $500 and then reading them the card number.

The IRS says the schemers pretend to be from the government. The IRS says the nationwide scheme has tricked people out of about a million dollars.

UMass police say they’re working with the cell phone company to get more information about the caller.

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