When Dennis L. Crane's home number and caller ID showed up on an automated phone call to the Rocktree Apartments Wednesday morning, the manager was concerned if it was actually from Sheriff Crane.
"I answered it and it was automatically a recording for National Home Life Insurance, so I hung up," he said. "If a person can't talk to me person-to-person, I just hang up. I don't have time to listen to a recording."
So the manager picked up the phone to call the Sheriff's Department.
"I called and asked if (Dennis') middle initial was L. It was, so they transferred me to the sheriff. I asked if the number that came up was his and then I explained what happened."
Sheriff Crane wanted to make sure that people knew it was a scam.
"The call didn't come from anyone in my house and we are not involved," Crane said. "With these scams you should contact the person if you are unfamiliar with them. If you don't know the company or the person calling, check into it before you do anything."
The practice is called spoofing. Someone hooks equipment into a computer system that accesses the public phone numbers. Then, those numbers are used as caller ID numbers when the equipment makes automated phone calls.
The caller ID will show the name and public phone number for the person.
The equipment does not have to be set up in Callaway County or even Missouri to make the call. In fact, the equipment is often set up at locations in other countries.
The technology makes it difficult to track down people who use the equipment to spoof caller IDs, too.
"There are a lot of good uses for technology these days," Crane said. "But some people really use technology in a negative way."
According to the manager at Rocktree Apartments, this is not only happening in Fulton. He said a property in Boonville had a similar call yesterday.