Fairfield police investigate scams
A local resident contacted The Ledger about a phone scam received from 813-882-4549 at his place of business to buy light bulbs.
“The caller gave the name Michelle Hike and asked if I was the person responsible for purchasing light bulbs,” the resident emailed. “She said I was referred by a co-worker, Phil. Our business doesn’t have anyone named Phil.
“I asked for a phone number to call her back, she told me she had no such number. I asked for the address of the company she worked for. She refused and questioned as to why I needed it. I told her if I could not verify her business phone number or address, we could not do business. “
The call ended and the local resident entered the caller’s number online and found a website, scam.in.
He had received a phone call a few days earlier from a male with an East Coast accent, also asking if he was the one in the office to buy light bulbs. The caller gave no introduction or name.
“He said he wanted to send me a cooler with a bottle of Jack Daniels. He asked for my home address where he could send the cooler. I asked his name and he hung up,” the resident emailed.
The Fairfield man researched more online and found www.whycall.me/813-882.html with a comment March 2012 by an anonymous person that echoed his own experience.
The anonymous commenter said the caller had a New York or New England accent and asked if this was the person who purchases light bulbs for the facility. The caller said he was with Precision Lighting and wanted the commenter’s business, and would send a Coleman cooler with a bottle of Jack, and asked for a home address.
The number the salesperson called from was 813 882 4549 and the commenter said that phone number is registered to a Francis Peraino, 67, at Barnside Place, Tampa, FL 33635, but also is linked to an Air Force veteran who died in New York at age 67.
Another commenter at the website, dated June 2013, says: “we get calls from this number almost every day, we have repeatedly tried to get them to stop calling us.”
Capt. Dave Thomas of the Fairfield Police Department said his office receives two or three reports of scams and fraud a month.
“We just had a new type of scam show up,” he said. “It’s a twist on the old ‘you’ve won the lottery’ scheme. Someone calls and tells you they are calling from a federal agency and have thousands of dollars in your name. The caller asks you to buy a cash card from any local business and put $2,000 on it, as a processing fee. The caller sets up a meeting time and place, such as the Walmart parking lot, and tells you to meet there and don’t tell anyone, it has to be a secret,” said Thomas.
“Before the meeting appointment, the caller calls again and asks for the cash card information, is able to get access to the $2,000 and never shows up at the appointed location.”
Thomas said it’s important to know a federal agency is never going to secretly hand over money.
“We called back one of these numbers and asked which federal agency they represented and they couldn’t say,” said Thomas. “I advised the caller it’s against the law to impersonate a federal agency, and they hung up.”
He hadn’t heard about the light bulb calling scam, but says there are many variations of calls and sending money to someone to receive much more money.
“Ask for a business name and a call back number,” said Thomas.
“If someone wants to report a scam, they can, but especially if they’ve lost money or given out personal information,” he said. “We’ll investigate. If you haven’t given information or lost money, you don’t need to report it, we’re aware of the scams. If you have questions, call us.”
The non-emergency phone number for the law center is 472-4146.