AMES, Iowa--Ames Police are warning the public against a phone scammer who is trying to rip people off while claiming to be the police.
Ames Police have been receiving reports of a phone scam targeting International Iowa State students.
“Scammers have called them saying they were either the IRS, campus police or the local police department and they`ve told them that they owe taxes and if they don`t pay those taxes they will be arrested or have charges filed against them,” says Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle.
Commander Tuttle says the caller tells the person they must pay delinquent taxes using a prepaid credit card or wire transfer. He says that’s something the police would never do.
“We`ve told people consistently the IRS or the police department will never call you and demand money over the telephone,” says Commander Tuttle.
Police say what makes the calls even more troubling is the scammers are manipulating it so the Ames Police Department's phone number, 515-239-5133, shows up on the caller ID.
“The thing that really concerns us is the scammers are using our non-emergency number to do this, a lot of our citizens know that number so they`re somewhat caught off guard when they see that number,” says Commander Tuttle.
The practice is referred to as ‘spoofing’ or masking the true number and location with another number, and unfortunately it's hard to trace.
“Most of these scams originate overseas so it`s very hard to track them especially when they`re spoofing our telephone number because that`s our piece of evidence to try and track back,” says Commander Tuttle.
Ames Police say in the last three days 40 students have come forward saying they've received a similar calls.
Police say one student did do a wire transfer for $5,000, that case is being investigated.
If you've had a similar call, please call Ames Police.