Many of us continuously get calls informing us that "Our records show you have not updated your free Google listing." The caller id origins of the spam call is usually unavailable. If you speak to the person, they act as if they work for Google and you need to buy services to improve your Google listing.
These people are scammers and they have no affiliation with Google. Google with all their information and clout has been unable to put a stop to the scammers using their name. One of the issues is that the origin of these calls are often outside the United States, so cracking down on them is difficult.
The Hernando Sun was recently the victim of a similar scam. A scammer called the winners of our Readers' Choice Awards basically telling them that they won and required them to spend $250 to receive their award.
We first learned that this was happening when we received a one star review on Facebook by a business owner who was upset by this scam. We had no idea what was going on and contacted the owner in an attempt to find out more. While we were messaging back and forth with the first business owner, a doctor's office called and informed us that they had received a call that required them to make a purchase to receive their award. The doctor's office had spoken to our editor Julie previously and suspected that it was a scam. We also heard from several other businesses.
The number that was left to call back was 888-294-4182. Googling that number brings up several listings for Detox Trim, a Tampa based business with a one star Better Business Bureau rating. I called the number they left and they answered the phone saying their name (Carl in our case) and how can I help you. I told them I was calling about the Hernando Sun Readers' Choice Awards and he said, 'Let me look you up in the system,' which is interesting since the Hernando Sun is our family business and they have nothing to do with it.
We contacted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and these crimes are very common. They receive dozens of calls a day regarding scam phone callers. Sometimes people are taken for thousands of dollars a day. Recently a scammer pretended to be a Sergeant from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. The scammer called a number of people and claimed that there was an active bench warrant for his or her arrest usually for missing jury duty. The man then demanded that they set up their bond over the phone before turning themselves in. The bond money is kept by the scammers. The sergeant's name was real. The scammers most likely found the sergeant's information online.
The winners of the Hernando Sun Readers' Choice Awards are listed online. This means the scammers can be almost anywhere and look up the award winners online. The Hernando Sun does not require business owners to make any purchases to receive your award. We provide the digital art free of charge for winners and it can be had by emailing [email protected] If someone is calling you claiming otherwise, they are a scammer. If you want to get in touch with us please call the numbers listed on the inside of the front page of the newspaper, on our website hernandsun.com, or you can message us on Facebook.
Technology allows emails and phone calls from anywhere. For this convenience, we are losing the ability to verify that the person on the other end of the phone is who they claim to be. Numbers can easily be spoofed, caller id can be faked. Call back numbers can be routed to different phones. If someone calls you claiming to be business, but it does not seem right, contact the business a different way, for instance via a number found on their website or Facebook.