Scammers have claimed to belong to various federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies and they employ technology called “spoofing” to manipulate the caller IDs.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public to be on guard against scam phone calls from those who falsely claim to be from the Social Security Administration or a local, state or federal law enforcement agency.

“We have been getting more reports of this Social Security Scam and ask victims, if contacted by phone to simply hang-up,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey. “We also ask that you report the call to your local law enforcement agency.”

If you’re in an unincorporated area or Dunsmuir, McCloud, Dorris or Happy Camp, that means calling the Sheriff’s Office at (530) 841-2900.

Nationwide, millions of dollars have been stolen by scammers who prey on victims by exploiting the trusted reputation of government agencies, and in 2019 so far, this trend seems to be continuing in Siskiyou County, Lopey said. In some major cities, millions of dollars have been stolen from unsuspected citizens.

Part of the scam involves caller ID showing the Social Security Administration, and it appears the scam is designed to target not just elder citizens but virtually anyone with a phone. Sophisticated phone scams use the trust victims have in their own governmental and law enforcement agencies against them.

When the call is answered, a person or recording on the other end advises the person that their Social Security number has been used to open numerous accounts or is involved in some sort of drug trafficking or money laundering operation.

To protect their money or to avoid being arrested, victims are asked to send various sums of money to help resolve the situation. The most common forms of payment requested are prepaid gift cards, Bitcoin and bank wire transfers.

In many of the cases, a person posing as a police officer or law enforcement official will intimidate or threaten victims to gain compliance, said Lopey. Victims are told that they will be arrested and/or their assets will be frozen.

Scammers have claimed to belong to various federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies and they employ technology called “spoofing” to manipulate the caller IDs.

The scammer will often stay on the phone with the victims while they are going into stores to make their gift card purchases and tell them not to let the store clerks know what is going on. They even tell them stories to make up so they will not be refused purchase of gift cards.

The Sheriff’s Office reminds people that they will never be contacted by the Social Security Administration or any law enforcement agency and be asked to submit money or information over the phone.

For information about scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website or review the Siskiyou County website.

Victims who have lost money in one of these scams are strongly encouraged to file a law enforcement report. A crime in progress should be reported by dialing 911.