Alleged scam ‘spoofs’ dead numbers

Receiving a call from a telephone number belonging to a late Madera resident may not be as spooky as it sounds, but it can be no less menacing to confront, a Tribune reader discovered.

An alleged scammer appears to be faking his caller identification to mimic longtime Madera numbers, according to Cecelia Bock of Madera. She answered a seemingly local call that notified her that her “wellness package” was ready to be picked up. When she told the caller she was on the national Do Not Call list, he reacted angrily and with foul speech.

“So what, I don’t care ... Tomorrow you’ll pick up your phone and we’ll be having the same conversation,” she recalled him telling her. “I felt very threatened and that is why I called the police. I have no idea if he’s local or if he’s calling from another state, but there was nothing civil or nice about his response.”

When she spoke with an AT&T representative afterwards, the woman told her the number had not been in use for years. An online search by the representative revealed it to have once been the telephone number of the now defunct Gino’s Nursery.

“Gino Toschi had a nursery for decades until he passed away, but he’s been dead for several years,” she said. “It was a 674 number, and those have been Madera numbers for many years. That is why I picked it up.”

Bock shared her story so that others might be forewarned about the new scammer approach.

“Oh, there was beautiful Mozart music playing in the background” when on hold, she said. “It sounded very professional, but believe me the man was in no way professional. And we know it is a scam because the man was using a defunct number.”