ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Attorney General Jim Hood is warning consumers of a scam that appears to be surfacing in Mississippi.
The scam being recently reported to the Attorney General’s Office is a combination of the long-existing “emergency” and “phone spoofing” scams. In the emergency scam, the caller leads you to believe that there is some existing emergency that requires you to immediately wire money to handle (i.e., friend traveling overseas has been arrested or warrant out for your arrest requiring immediate payment to clear). Phone spoofing disguises the number from which you are actually receiving a phone call.
“The most recent case reported to us was from a Madison couple trying to verify information,” said Attorney General Hood. “The caller used a 407 area code and claimed to be an ‘Officer Jack’ from Orlando, Fla. He told the female there was a warrant out for her arrest and she would be picked up the next day if she did not pay to settle the charge. She and her husband were smart to verify before panicking.”
As it turned out in the Madison case, there was no warrant and the phone number taken from the couple’s caller ID was registered to Ymax Communication, also known as Magic Jack, a legitimate Internet-based phone business. The con artist was using Magic Jack to conceal the fact that he was actually calling from India. When contacted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Magic Jack officials immediately responded to requests for more information, helped verify the scam, disconnected the phone number and marked it with fraudulent behavior in the company’s system.
“The bad guys like to use legitimate businesses to perpetrate their crimes,” said Hood. “Your best defense is to keep your guard up and verify all information before panicking and wiring money, most of which ends up overseas and virtually impossible to get back.”