Get Gephardt Investigates: Beware 'hijacking phone' scammers
(KUTV) A woman, who asked not to be identified, got a call that shook her to her core. She’s shaken still. She asked not to be identified.
The caller claimer her brother had been in an accident. It wasn’t a bad accident. Everyone was fine. But, it wasn’t going to stay that way unless she handed over her credit card number. She began recording the call.
"I'm not a monster,” the caller said. “I may be a thug. I may be a gang banger, but I'm not a monster.”
The caller warned her not to hang up the phone and told her that calling her brother directly to verify the story wouldn’t do her any good because he and his fellow gang members were holding her brother and they had his phone.
“They continued to lay in that they had his cell phone,” she says.
As a self-proclaimed gang member, the caller also said he didn’t want the police to be called. No cops, or else.
"The only reason we haven't beat the s**t out of your brother is because all I want is that my boy is taken care of," the caller said.
She says she knew it was a scam and hung up, then tried to call her brother directly on his cell phone. Sure enough that "thug gang-banger" answered. And now he was really mad.
“I was really roped in when they answered my brother's cell phone,” she said. “I was all theirs at that point."
Terrified, she ended up calling her mom from another phone and, together, they were able to verify her brother was safe.
But her brother still has his phone, so how was that thug able to answer?
We took that question to computer expert and owner of PC Laptops, Dan Young. Young can't say for sure, but he suspects a twist on identity theft is the culprit.
"Buy any kind of phone, call the carrier, tell them that this is the replacement phone, and then the phone number would be assigned to that phone," Young said.
Young suggests having a strong password and strong security questions with your cellphone provider.
"When they're validating that it's you, it's [got to be] pretty heavy duty," he says.
Spokespersons for the FBI, the Salt Lake City police department and the West Valley City police department each said their departments had not heard of this version of the scam -- scammers actually able to hijack or reroute the phone so when you try to call your loved one, you get the scammer instead.