Larimer County Man Loses $20,000+ In Fake Drug Investigation Scam
Fort Collins Police say a Fort Collins man was taken for over $20,000 recently in an intricate phone scam that featured a phony drug trafficking investigation, spoofed phone numbers, and scammers impersonating border patrol agents and the Police Chief of Fort Collins.
That's according to a post on the Fort Collins Police Services Facebook page. According to the post, the con started when the victim got a phone call from someone claiming to be a border patrol agent.
The caller told the man that he was under investigation for drug trafficking. Part of what made the scam more believable was the fact the phone number of the caller wrongly showed up on caller ID as being the actual phone number of a border patrol agency.
This practice--known as spoofing--is often used by modern con artists and is the reason people should not assume that a call is legitimate simply because of the phone number displayed on caller ID. The fake border patrol agent told the victim that Fort Collins police were part of the investigation, and told the man to speak to Fort Collins Police Services to learn more.
Again using a "spoofed'' fake phone number, the caller connected the victim with someone pretending to be Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda. The phony police chief told the victim his agency was in fact investigating him for drug trafficking.
The victim was then referred to yet another agency, again using spoofed phone numbers to make the con believable. The con artists told the man that drug traffickers had used his name to open several bank accounts that were being used to traffic illegal drugs.
But they told the victim that they didn't think he personally was part of the drug organization, but that since his name and information was being used by the drug criminals, he should take all of his money out of his existing bank account and put it in a "safe" bank account [using a Bitcoin ATM]. That way, they said, they could shut down the phony bank accounts that the drug dealers had opened in his name.
The victim did so. Needless to say, the "safe'' bank account was fraudulent, and the scammers were able to get the roughly $20,000 that the victim put into that account. Due to the use of spoofing and multi-layered scam tactics, it's virtually impossible to track down the perpetrators. Quite often the con artists involved in these types of schemes are part of international crime syndicates beyond the reach of American law enforcement.
Police say people can learn several things from this case, including the fact that people should not trust numbers on caller ID as being legitimate.
It's also always a good idea to google the phone numbers of organizations and contact them yourself instead of letting supposedly helpful callers connect you to answer questions.