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Cops warn about phone scam targeting credit cards owners on Whidbey

The Island County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about a credit card-related scam that hit Whidbey Island in the last couple of days.

Detective Ed Wallace said quite a few people in the community, including nine employees of the sheriff's office, received robo-calls from scammers who are trying to trick people into revealing their credit or debit card numbers and other sensitive data.

Wallace explained that the victims received calls from "a really horrible computer voice" claiming to be from Wells Fargo. The voice claims that the victim's credit or debit card has been compromised and asks for a card number, a Social Security number and a pin number.

Wallace tells people to beware. Banks do not call people to ask for credit card numbers. They should never ask for a pin number, even if there is a problem with an account.

"Your bank will not call you like this," Wallace said, suggesting that people call their bank if they receive such a call and are concerned.

Wallace, who happens to be the department's computer expert, received one of the bogus calls. He gave the fraudsters fake numbers to see what would happen. The computer voice told him he would receive confirmation in two days, but he's not holding his breath.

The fraudulent calls were made to deputies' work phones, which have sequential numbers. Wallace said that suggests the scammers have an auto dialer that's working through local numbers.

Wallace said such schemes usually originate in foreign countries, often Nigeria, and it's pretty much impossible for law enforcement to catch the scammers.

"Frankly, if someone falls victim, there's not much we can do for them," he said.

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