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Scammers accuse you of being a criminal to try to get your personal information and money

The caller claims you're connected to a crime.
Brian Roman of Indianapolis got a phone call in which the scammers claimed they were trying to locate him in connection with a criminal case.  But Roman is not charged with any crime.
Posted at 7:35 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 20:43:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Scammers are accusing people of being criminals to get money and personal information.

WRTV Investigates is seeing an increase in complaints in which callers claim you are connected to a crime or there’s a warrant out for your arrest.

Brian Roman lives on Indy's east side and is always on edge.

“I worry all the time,” Roman said. “I’m always looking over my shoulder.”

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When Roman got a phone call from a private number claiming to be a company that locates people charged in criminal cases, he paid attention.

“It caught me off guard, so I answered to see what it was about,” Roman said. “It was a woman named Kayla Davis and she said there was an order for my location, some kind of legal matter I was involved in. They wanted me to confirm my social security number."

Roman played WRTV several voicemails they left him, including one that said, “this is your final legal notification by telephone and you will be located unless you're instructed otherwise."

Roman said he was concerned, even though he had done nothing wrong.

"I was freaking out," he said.

They even called his parents.

“They said ‘I don't know what you got going on but you might want to check that out!’" Roman said.

Roman went online to see if he was charged with anything.

"I ran my name through MyCase and also called the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis and local courts to see if there were any pending charges and there wasn't,” Roman said.

Roman is not alone.

Jena Pollard got a similar scam call in which they said her Social Security number had been compromised, and a warrant could be issued for her arrest.

RELATED | Government imposter scams are on the rise

“Someone can tell you that you have a warrant for your arrest coming up for all these things you didn't do," Pollard said. “They tell you they're coming to your home the next morning. You could potentially be taken away from your children. What would happen?"

When Roman realized he’s not a criminal and no one was coming to arrest him, he filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB is seeing an explosion of complaints about scams in which the caller accuses you of being involved in a crime.

"They’re phishing for your personal information, and they could sound very legitimate,” said Tim Maniscalo, President of the BBB serving central Indiana. “They could give you a badge number, a case number so you're going to want to cooperate with these people because you don't want to get involved in this. This is just a way for them to get information from you."

Scammers are using advanced techniques to dupe consumers, including using official employee names, logos, and fabricated federal badges.

In some cases, they’re texting and emailing copies of those badges to consumers.

Last year, people across the country lost $395,000 to government imposter scams.

The number one agency scammers claim to be from the Social Security Administration.

"They're scaring you, so you're going to act emotional,” Maniscalo said. “Think about it, and say I'm not going to start giving you information."

The caller may tell you that a car registered in your name has been found with drugs, money, and blood in it, or that your name is associated with a house that has been part of a recent drug raid. 

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They may also say that you have charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, and potential homicide. 

"I think they were gathering information on me to do whatever they wanted, get money. steal my identity,” Roman said. “That's what I think it is."

Thankfully, Roman never gave them any money and didn’t reveal much about himself despite the scammers' efforts.

The best way to protect yourself is to not answer the phone unless it’s someone you know.

Brian Roman is now rejecting and blocking unwanted calls.

He’s glad no one is coming to arrest him.

“It's a scam so I feel better now,” Roman said.

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Don’t give out your personal information over the phone.  Even if the caller has part of your social security number or other personal information, it doesn’t mean the call is legitimate. 
  • Do not trust your caller ID.  Many scammers "spoof" phone numbers to make you trust them.  
  • Know that government agencies DO NOT call unsolicited.  Government agencies typically send letters if they need to contact a citizen. 
  • Contact the government or law enforcement agency directly if in doubt.  Use a number or website you know to be correct. SSA has stated that you can contact them if you receive a call from someone who claims to be an SSA employee at 1-800-772-1213 to verify. 
  • If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from a government agency, report it to the FTC and BBB at bbb.org/scamtracker. 

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