Public cautioned about police imposter phone scam

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 15, 2019

Police are asking the public to resist phone scammers impersonating an officer to fraudulently obtain sensitive data.

In a March 12 statement, Sterling Heights police officials said they have heard reports of phone scam attempts in which an imposter spoofs, or mimics, the Police Department’s phone number, (586) 446-2800, on residents’ caller ID. 

When a resident answers, the culprit reportedly identifies himself as an Officer Jordan Smitt — even though no one by that name works for the Sterling Heights Police Department. The scammer tries to get residents’ personal banking and Social Security information. 

The Police Department is warning the public to not divulge personal information over the phone. When in doubt, residents should go directly to the police station, located at 40333 Dodge Park Road, to make sure that the department has truly asked for such information. 

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said March 13 that a call impersonating a Sterling Heights officer happened “within the past couple of weeks.” Bastianelli said that while the false identity of Jordan Smitt appears to be a new scheme, phone scams of this nature have happened before, and he wants to make the public aware of them.

“Other police departments have been affected by the same thing,” he said.

Even if the suspect is spoofing phone numbers, Bastianelli said it’s possible for an investigation to chase down some leads. 

“There’s ways to track phone numbers,” he explained. “Our detectives are all aware of the process to obtain that information. … Somebody might be spoofing, but there’s a way to be able to get in and track whose caller that is. We have a good working relationship with the phone companies, and we’re able to get that information.”

Bastianelli said the culprit, if caught, could potentially face charges of fraud, identity theft and impersonating a police officer.

Anyone who has more information about this incident or others like it is encouraged to contact the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800.