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Scammers using familiar Jamestown phone numbers

Scammers have been using an abbreviation of Jamestown Hospital when making phone calls and claiming to represent Jamestown Regional Medical Center in an attempt to get money from people. Courtesy / Jamestown Regional Medical Center

People in the Jamestown area have been seeing a familiar business name pop-up on their Caller ID, an abbreviation of Jamestown Hospital.

The call is part of a scam where people answer the phone thinking the call is coming from Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Instead the person who answers is told that he or she has won a sweepstakes, or a trip, and needs to send money via a wire transfer or some other means.

Katie Ryan-Anderson, marketing and communications manager for JRMC, said Thursday the medical center has received many calls from people stating the caller was from JRMC and the individual has won a prize or can qualify for an extravagant vacation.

“I can tell you for months, people have said someone called them and the number is actually one of our phone numbers,” she said.

Ryan-Anderson said medical center officials worry about scammers using one of the center’s phone numbers or representing the call as coming from the medical center.

“People trust their health care provider,” she said. “We’re afraid people will fall victim to a scam because they think it is us.”

Ryan-Anderson said the medical center staff would never make a call saying someone had won a sweepstakes or offering a discount vacation and ask for money in return.

I can tell you for months, people have said someone called them and the number is actually one of our phone numbers.

marketing KATIE RYAN and -ANDERSON communications manager for JRMC

Staci Schiller, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, said the Jamestown branch of Wells Fargo has seen more of its customers coming in wanting to make a cash deposit for someone posing as a friend or family member who claims to be in an emergency situation.

Schiller said the friend or family imposter scam is when someone receives a call that appears to be legitimate because the scammer has some specific information about the person he or she is calling, such as the person’s name and details about that person’s family and friends.

“Using this method, a scammer can trick you into believing he or she is a friend or family member,” she said, “claiming to need money for an emergency, such as posting bail or paying a hospital bill.”

Schiller said the scammer may pressure the caller to wire the money immediately via online banking or other money transfer services.

Schiller said people should first verify the identity of the person making the call by contacting the friend or family member directly to confirm the caller’s story.

“If you feel uncomfortable about a call you didn’t initiate, hang up,” she said.

Jamestown Chief of Police Scott Edinger said Thursday there has been an increase in scam phone call complaints over the last few weeks, but nothing too out of the ordinary. He said he has personally noticed he is receiving more phone calls using local phone numbers that were potentially scam phone calls.

“If I don’t know the number (that comes up on his phone’s screen), I don’t answer it,” he said.

He has noticed scammers are using local-looking phone numbers with the prefixes like 320 and 269 and some of the scam phone numbers are people’s actual phone numbers.

“I called one of these numbers because it looked familiar,” he said. “The person answered and said he hadn’t called me and didn’t know how I got his phone number.”

Edinger said people need to be vigilant and to be discerning when receiving a phone call from someone they don’t know.

colson@jamestownsun.com

(701) 952-8454

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454
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