Knott County officials urging the community to be cautious with new line of phone scams

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - It’s a problem that will not seem to go away, people in Knott County are having issues with phone scammers.

For the past several months, phone scammers have been targeting the elderly, now using local numbers and Appalachian Wireless numbers.

“They can use that and strike up a conversation with you and let on like they know someone that you’re close to or whatever and then try to get you to open up and provide them with information,” Knott County Sheriff Dale Richardson said.

Richardson says they have achieved this through use of different programs that allow the scammer to change their number, the idea being if a potential victim sees a number they recognize, they are more likely to answer.

“I tell people a lot of times if they don’t recognize a number, don’t answer but if you do and you realize that it’s someone you don’t know, and they are fishing for your information, just hang up.”

Knott County Judge-Executive Jeff Dobson said once you hang up there is only one thing left to do.

“Report it to your local sheriff department or KSP Post 13 in our area and give the phone numbers out to those individuals and let them handle it. Don’t fall into their traps,” Dobson said.

We reached out to Appalachian Wireless and they sent us this statement:

“Spam calls are all too familiar for all customers and wireless carriers. Call ‘spoofing’ is unfortunately very easy to do, and allows any number to be shown as as a fake number. Often, you will have scammers spoofing local numbers because it makes it much more likely for people to answer when a number looks local. Appalachian Wireless does not sell or provide these numbers to scammers and telemarketers in any way, shape, or form. These calls are nothing more than a scam and Appalachian Wireless recommends immediately hanging up if you are ever even slightly unsure who you might be talking to. Even if you have a caller claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, Credit Card company, eBay, Amazon, or even the police, you can always hang up, and then look up the real, published number for that company and call them back at the real number. Appalachian Wireless also encourages you to report the spam calls to the FCC and lawmakers in an attempt to bring attention to the matter.”

Richardson says it is hard for his team to do anything, reciting a scam that happened where money was transferred to a PO box in Chicago.

“And they actually went to the residence and no one came to the door. So, I guess maybe they set them up for a short time and then they move on to another place and try to scam someone else so it’s very hard to trace,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he wants the community to understand a simple message.

“Never ever give your personal information out to anyone on the phone. I mean it might actually even be someone you think you know,” Richardson said.

Dobson said they hope to be one day rid of scammers.

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