Scammers pretend to be law enforcement
AUSTIN, Texas - Scammers are taking it to a whole new level.
They spoof the caller ID so when you pick up the phone, you think you're speaking with law enforcement or an official agency.
The end goal is still the same, they're just trying to steal your money.
The Austin Police Department says they've been receiving a lot of calls from people, each with different versions of the same phone scam.
Some have fallen for it, while others have lucked out.
What would you do if you saw the police calling?
It was a nerve-wracking situation for Aida Guhlin.
"They were telling me that I was under investigation for a crime and I was a primary suspect in Austin. I was like, what am I under investigation for? They wouldn't tell me so I was a little weirded out," says Aida Guhlin, victim.
She actually lives in College Station and hasn't visited Austin in a year.
The person on the other line was pretending to be with the Austin Police Department.
When Guhlin asked more questions, she was even transferred to what was said to be a supervisor.
"I think he tried to scare me because I was like, you know hold on, I need to call my parents and talk to them. He was like, 'if you don't call back within 15 minutes or something, I'm going to call your local police department and tell them to come and arrest you,'" says Guhlin.
The New Braunfels Police Department recently posted on their Facebook page that someone is using the name of a lieutenant that is actually part of their command staff.
They claim to be collecting money on active warrants.
Austin Energy has also had their fair share of confused customers.
"Scammers will even show up to your place of business, say a restaurant during the busiest time, and tell them that their electricity is going to be cut off unless they pay them immediately with cash, or a money card or credit card number. That's always a scam," says Carlos Cordova, Austin Energy Spokeperson.
Cordova says if they need to notify you of money owed, they'll either mail you a letter or leave you a door hanger.
The scammers can be convincing.
They are also spoofing phone numbers because right now a lot of people have caller ID and they rely on that. So for instance, if you see Austin Energy's number coming over the caller ID, you think it is the utility calling you," says Cordova.
Almost all of these scams involve the scammer asking you to purchase a pre-paid bank card and provide them the number.
They'll even go as far as to threaten you.
"They sounded professional. They sounded like they were police. The fact that they had a badge number to even give, even if it was fake, that freaks me out. I was like, I don't know if this is real or not," says Guhlin.
If you suspect you are being scammed, you're asked to call 3-1-1 and file a police report.