Friday September 28, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Office of Con sumer Affairs and Business Regu lations is alerting state residents to a telephone scam in which callers identifying themselves as employees of the agency solicit money.

The state government agency learned of the scam on Sept. 21 when a woman called about a man who had left a voicemail claming to be from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Regulation.

When the woman returned the message, she was told she had won $300,000, but would have to send in a $360 check for insurance. She was told that once the insurance check was received, the winnings would be sent to her. The woman then hung up.

Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony referred to the tactic as a new take on an "age-old scam" that "preys on consumers’ trust and pocketbooks."

"These scam artists are clever individuals who have done their homework on our office," Anthony said in a written statement. "Consumers should be aware of these phone calls and never give out any personal information, or hand over any money.

"Our office will never call you asking for money," she said.

The call the woman received in the scam last week originated from the phone number (931) 841-9220. However, the agency warns that scam solicitations could originate from other phone numbers. Scammers are also able to spoof caller ID information to misrepresent the originating number.

Anyone who has been a victim of this fraud should contact their local police department or the Federal Trade Com mission, said Pittsfield Police Department spokesman Capt. John Mullin.

Those who contact the FTC will be able to record a complaint.

Those who receive suspicious unsolicited telephone calls seeking money can contact the FTC at 877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or via the Internet at www.ftc.gov.