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Petaluma Police Department
Friday May 31st, 2019 :: 04:14 p.m. PDT


Steep increase in telephone scams regarding Social Security and Student Loan Debts.


Petaluma Police Department

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                     Friday, May 31stst, 2019
Issued By:
Detective Sergeant Paul Gilman, Petaluma PD, 707.778.4415, email
Incident:                 Steep Increase In Telephone Scam Calls      
Occurred Date :           5-31-2019
Location:                     Petaluma, CA
Incident Summary
Recently there has been a steep increase in the number of telephone scams. 3 such calls were made to the Petaluma PD Investigations Unit this morning alone. This most recent scheme is to claim that your Social Security Number has been compromised. In an effort to determine the nature of this scam, a detective was able to keep the callers on the phone in excess of 40 minutes.
The call began with someone saying that the social security number of the detective was compromised and stated that there were numerous checking accounts opened in Texas and they were being used in drug trafficking operations and there were high dollar medical bills which used the detective’s SSN. They ask personal information, but the detective was able to make up information as the call progressed. The caller wasn’t able to verify much of it, because they do not have access to the accounts.
After creating a false identity, the detective was asked to speak to a local law enforcement representative. While on the call, the detective received another call from someone representing themselves as a sheriff’s deputy. The detective was asked to answer the call, but to keep the other call on call waiting. The “deputy” asked the detective to cooperate with the “Social Security Administration” and do what they asked.
The detective was then transferred to a supervisor and the 3rd person he spoke to during the call. The caller than asked the detective if they wanted to be arrested or to handle the matter discreetly. Upon choosing to not be arrested, the detective received instructions to drive to a local 7-11 or Walmart to purchase “Hotel” cards that can be loaded with any amount. The detective was told that any attempt to end the call or mute the phone would result in arrest and the caller quoted penal code sections which do not exist.
The detective was asked to load $500 dollars on each card and not to tell the employee what the cards were for. If the store employee asked, the detective was to inform them that is was a gift for a nephew. The detective was asked to use a Bluetooth device or ear piece to continue to receive instructions while in the store.
Upon purchasing the cards, the detective was asked to scratch off the silver coating on the back and read the numbers to the caller. At this point, the caller became angry, called the detective names and hung up the phone. At no point did the detective make any purchase of gift cards, nor did he drive to a store. This was mainly an effort to see what the current M.O. of the current scam entails. All of the callers had similar accents when they spoke. The numbers which called today were from Texas, Kentucky, and Florida. All these numbers were likely “spoofed” using a computer program and not actually coming from the states listed.  
This is just a reminder to be aware of the recent scams that are taking advantage of some residents who are trusting of people identifying themselves as law enforcement or Federal Government. The Social Security Administration will not ask people to pay with gift cards to avoid arrests. If at anytime you have questions about these types of calls, you can call the Petaluma Police Department at (707) 778-4372 for clarification.

Petaluma Police Department
969 Petaluma Blvd N
Petaluma, CA 94952

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 707-778-4372

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