Phone Scam Targets People While Using Fake 911 Caller ID

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A Zanesville woman says a man called her and pretended to be an officer but started talking about sex. It’s part of an ongoing scam in Ohio.

“He was stating that he was from the Ohio State Police and that there was an arrest warrant for me,” said victim Caitlin Sims.

That’s what Sims said she heard when she answered her cell phone Friday.  

She says it was a man with a thick accent who claimed to be an Ohio law enforcement officer.

The number that appeared on the caller ID read: "emergency 911." But the call was bogus, and it wasn't the first.

“On July 2, I received another call. It came up Emergency 911. The guy stated there was an arrest warrant under my name,” she explained.

Friday was worse. Sims says, this time, the fake officer started talking about sex. She said she started to freak out.

Sims called her mom.

“She was totally paranoid when she called on Friday and told me that,” said her mother, Mary.

The women decided to alert Zanesville police, but officers chose not to investigate. A Zanesville sergeant declined to explain why.

10 Investigates went to work and looked into whether this is an isolated incident. It turns out that it's happening fairly frequently.   

10TV found stories from around the country that show scammers "spoofing" 911 numbers.

“Spoofing” is when people use phone apps to disguise their numbers on caller IDs. 10 Investigates found the 911 “spoofers” usually try to get victims to pay some kind of bail money to get out of a phony warrant.

A search of state records shows people pretending to be state agents have pulled similar scams at least 20 other times this year. Attorney General Mike Dewine says don't be fooled.

“Prevention is the best thing, because once that money is transferred, it is so difficult to get it back,” said DeWine.

Sims never paid any money, and she says she knows how to handle the next call.

“I will not answer it. I will let it go to voice mail.”