Spoofed Calls and Websites in our Community Recently

Just recently, we have had a series of reports from business locations that someone purporting to be from DTE is calling threatening to shut off power to the location if they don’t pay money owed immediately.  The person is then directed to get “green dot” or prepaid credit cards and call them back to give them the number.  The fraudster then gets away with the cash.   If you get a suspicious call, look up the number for DTE and call them yourself.  Don’t use a number that you may see on a caller ID – fake caller ID numbers are what is called “spoofing.”  I am certain that DTE will never ask you to pay over the phone with a green dot card.

In another version known as “cyber squatting,” the fraudster created a website that is a replica of a businesses’ website.  Persons transacting business via website enter in their credit card numbers or other identifying data only to be entering it into a non secure website.  Here are some tips:

  • Check where the website is based out of.  You can use the site www.whois.net.  This should list the registrants name (company name that registered the site) and where it is based out of.  Some countries have weak consumer protection laws.  If the listing is “private” become suspicious.  Legitimate companies generally will not list their sites as private.
  • Scrutinize the website.  Do the images appear related to the business?  Does the product information appear detailed?  Do all the links on the site work properly?  If not, you should be suspicious.
  • Check other sites for reviews – Better Business Bureau, shopping.com, etc
  • Scrutinize all web based orders – attempt to determine if the website used is legitimate (call the business directly).

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.