Scammers Using Legit Business Phone Numbers To Trick You -

Scammers Using Legit Business Phone Numbers To Trick You

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With multiple health issues and living on a fixed income, Maggie Peace got an offer over the phone she almost couldn't refuse.

"It was for a government grant. You've been approved for a $9,000 government grant," said Maggie.

She says the caller asked for her social security number, bank account and routing numbers and the call was coming from a familiar area code.

"It was a Greenwood number," said Maggie, "a local number."

Maggie says having just been duped out of more than $800 by a bogus loan offer the week before, she called the local number back to ask some questions and got an unexpected response.

Bagwell Auto Sales, a car dealership in Greenwood, answered the other end of the phone. The number belonged to them. Owner Donnie Bagwell says in his 33 years of business, he's never experienced something like this.

"It's happened probably 15 or 20 times in the last two or three weeks," said Donnie. "People were calling in here and wanting to know if we had called them."

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says this type of scam is happening all over the state, where the caller tricks you by spoofing caller IDs to remain anonymous, sometimes using an established business phone number. They're counting on you to google the number and see that it's legit so you trust them to hand over your private information.

Bagwell reported his spoofing to the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office and is warning others to watch out.

"We would never do that and it's a very negative stigma," said Donnie, "and we have no idea who's doing it or how to stop them from doing it."

Maggie is just hoping she can keep others from falling in the same trap she did.

"Oh I know I've learned my lesson because I'm going to pay dearly for it this month," said Maggie.

The Greenwood County Sheriff's Office tells us it has seen a lot of these spoofing cases where the scammer isn't only using legit business phone numbers but also residential numbers.

If this happens to your business, the SC Dept. Of Consumer Affairs says to notify the public about it through a news release or a message on your website or facebook page.

If you get a call from one of these scammers, report it immediately to local law enforcement and the SC Dept. Of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau.

Tracey Early
Tracey co-anchors the 5:30 and 7 p.m. newscasts and is a general assignment reporter.
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