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September 13, 2018

Media Contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

Citizens’ Phone Numbers are being Hijacked

BISMARCK, ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem reminds North Dakota residents to ignore any telephone message that threatens them with arrest. These recorded messages are a scam.

The scam artists are using readily available “spoofing” technology to display on the Caller ID a number that is not the one they are using to place the calls, even hijacking real 701-area code phone numbers. The Attorney General recently received a report from a local resident whose home phone number had been hijacked, resulting in dozens of calls to her from angry people who believed her number was the one responsible for making the scam calls.

The scam recorded message threatens the recipient with arrest unless they return the call immediately. The message is often hard to understand because it cuts out when the supposed reason for the arrest is being recited. The phone number given out on the message changes almost daily as the scam artists use and discard numbers quickly to stay ahead of federal authorities.

“There are so many variations of these imposter scams it simply is not possible to issue a warning about every recorded message, but the one thing they all have in common is that every single one of them is a scam,” assured Stenehjem.

The fake IRS call is one of the most well-known variations of these scam threatening messages, but one new variation of the message claims that their social security number has been compromised and all their assets will be frozen unless they call back.  Even though these scams have been around for several years, unfortunately they still find new victims.

“If you receive a recorded message threatening you with immediate arrest, whatever you do, please don’t call them back. Simply delete the message, and then tell your friends and relatives so they know what to do,” said Stenehjem.

Parrell Grossman, director of the consumer protection division, urged cell phone users not to answer calls from numbers that are not in their contacts. “If you receive one of these messages on your cell phone, use the call blocking feature to prevent any more calls from that number,” he recommended.

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