Bloomfield Township police warn residents of ‘rampant’ phone scam

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 21, 2022

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP —  Police are alerting people to a new phone scam after a Bloomfield Township resident was reportedly swindled out of $500.

According to reports, the 45-year-old resident received several phone calls over a two-hour span on Aug. 29 from an individual claiming to be a deputy with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Police said the phone numbers were “cloned” on caller ID to look like Oakland County numbers.

“There are several apps out there that allow people to call somebody and the phone number on the caller ID will appear to be a legitimate number,” said Officer Nick Soley of the Bloomfield Township Police Department.

In this case, the impersonator claimed that the resident had failed to appear for jury duty and was charged with contempt of court and needed to pay $1,500 to clear the charges.

The Bloomfield Township resident attempted to settle the case by sending the impersonator $500 via the online banking application “Zelle Pay.” The resident offered to meet the impersonator at the Police Department to settle the rest of the debt, and the impersonator immediately ceased contact with the resident.

“We’ve been dealing with scam cases like this, probably, really heavily for the last five years,” said Soley. “This particular one is not a huge amount of money or a giant case, but it is so rampant right now.”

Police said no legitimate law enforcement agency will contact someone by telephone to settle a fine or take care of a warrant.

“We’re not going to ask you for any money over the phone,” Soley added.

People with questions about the legitimacy of a call are urged to immediately hang up and call their local police department’s non-emergency number for verification.

“If they start to get aggressive, or you start to worry that it may be a scam, find out where they are calling  from, hang up, look up a legitimate number for the agency and get ahold of someone to see if they are in fact looking for that,” Soley said.

Similar scams occur “quite often” with people impersonating law enforcement agencies, the IRS, and U.S. Customs, Borders and Immigrations, according to Soley.

“What they will do is they will spoof a number that comes back to a legitimate law enforcement agency, and their whole MO is to use scare tactics to try and get you to pay,” he said.

Anyone with information relating to the case can contact the Bloomfield Township police at (248) 433-7755. Those who experienced a similar scam can also call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or file a complaint online.