Police investigate scammer identifying as Homeland Security agent

The Columbus Police Department is investigating a phone scam in which a local woman was scammed out of several thousand dollars after she thought she received a call from a U.S. Homeland Security agent.

Police said the woman was told on the photo to go to a local grocery store and purchase several thousand dollars in iTunes gift cards, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

The individual who claimed to be a Homeland Security agent told the victim that if she didn’t purchase the cards, she would be arrested and held until her immigration papers were examined, Harris said.

The scammer knew some of the victim’s personal information, including her Social Security number, and was using software which made it appear he was calling from a legitimate Homeland Security phone number.

The victim later purchased the cards and provided the security PIN numbers to the scammer so the cards could be activated, Harris said. The incident was later reported to the Columbus Police Department.

Police are reminding local residents that legitimate law enforcement agencies do not accept payment in the form of gift cards, Harris said. Anyone receiving an unsolicited phone call from anyone requesting payment be made in this manner, or having any questions about the legitimacy of a phone call, should hang up, Harris said. Questions about scams can be answered by calling your local law enforcement agency.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.