Criminals use new technology for old scam in Hillsborough - WFLA News Channel 8

Criminals use new technology for old scam in Hillsborough

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives say criminals are using new technology to pull off the same old scam. The scam artists call victims posing as TECO employees. They say their electric bill is overdue and if it's not paid, their electricity will be turned off.

Corporal Bruce Crumpler works in the economic crimes unit at the sheriff's office. He says what's new, the crooks use a computer or a smart phone app to make the victims believe the call is actually coming from the electric company. 

"They have devices now that they can make a phone call and it appears that it's coming from another phone number," said Crumpler. "So what they're doing is spoofing TECO's phone number or whatever business they want it to be from to make it look like it's coming from a legitimate phone."

Crumpler says deputies investigated almost a dozen cases in the past month. Two of those cases involved the bad guys posing as sheriff's deputies. In those cases, the fake cops called the victims saying their tax payments were late, and if they didn't pay up they would be arrested. In one case, the victim forked over more than $5,000. The phone number the bad guys used  was  247-8200, the sheriff's office non-emergency line.

Anna Garza of Riverview is one of the victim's targetted.  "They called my mom, and they told her they were going to disconnect the lights."  Said Garza.  She says she shelled out more than 500 dollars to the scam artists.  "I couldn't believe that they did this to me. And I wouldn't like this to happen to any other people. Because it's too much money just to loose just like that. "

Crumpler says the sheriff's office does not conduct business like that, and for that matter, neither does TECO. 

"If there's any kind of pressure of paying quick, paying now, any threats associated with not paying, don't do it," he said.

 

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