By Angie Baldelomar
Earlier this month, an Oberlin woman received a call from an unknown number.
Vickie Huntley said she did not pick up the phone, but the caller left a voicemail message. Fifteen minutes later, she received another call, and this time she did pick up.
Both the voicemail and the call had around the same message, she said: That there was a case for her arrest and she needed to call back to know more about it. The caller claimed to have a case number and said she should follow instructions to avoid being arrested. Both numbers had the 202 area code, used for numbers in Washington D.C.
Mrs. Huntley said she knew it was a scam but wanted to report it to help others know in case something similar happens to them.
Oberlin Police Chief Troy Haas said he’s had reports of similar scams in the past, but no one has reported falling for this scam.
“People need to be cautious and protect their information,” he said. “They have to be on alert, considering new scams appear every day.”
Mr. Haas also said people would be notified of official court or tax cases in writing, usually by letter, but never over the phone or by email.
A lot of scams sound alike, he said: the scammer tells you the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you, and that you need to pay your back taxes as soon as possible if you want to avoid going to jail.
Decatur County Sheriff Ken Badsky said this type of call happens all the time.
“IRS does not call,” he said. “Any unknown number from the East Coast usually is a scam, so people should not answer it.”
Sheriff Badsky said people should be careful with their personal information, and try not to send money to anyone through services like Western Union.
This is a nationwide problem that has increased in recent years as technology progresses, Chief Haas said. Remember to always be suspicious of these calls.
“People should take a few minutes to research if what they are being told is true or not,” he added.
If you receive a suspicious call and think it may be a scam, you can call the Oberlin police department at 475-2622, or call the sheriff’s office at 475-8100 to talk to an officer here in town.
The story was published on page 6A of The Oberlin Herald‘s print edition on July 27, 2016.