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Phone scammers beware: New bill will crack down on calls that mask caller ID and illegal robocalls

Posted at 9:35 PM, Dec 03, 2019

HAMILTON, Ohio — Prosecutor Mike Gmoser called it one of the biggest thefts he’s seen in Butler county.

"(I) couldn’t believe I was that dumb," scam victim Charles Lotton said. "I just felt like I could help the whole family. With money, you know. I was going to give my boy money, my grandkids money, give them all money."

Lotton said scammers claimed he won $2.5 million in the lottery, but he needed to send in insurance money to claim the prize. Over three months, he sent $31,000 in cash and gift cards. Investigators traced the phone calls and transfers to a woman in Florida.

"It was very difficult to catch her," Gmoser said.

Gmoser said a grand jury indicted the Florida woman, and officers will bring her to Ohio to face a judge. He said Lotton’s case shows why additional steps must be taken to keep people safe from scams.

"They’re making the supply of it easy," Gmoser said. "I want them to do something about (it)."

He’s talking specifically about phone companies. This week, lawmakers are expected to vote in favor of a bill that would punish phone scammers more severely and put a stop to robocalls.

"You do something about it to protect those people," Gmoser said. "You’re inventive people, you invented the telephone."

Butler County congressman Warren Davidson said he will vote yes on the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or TRACED Act, to crack down on scammers who prey on unwitting cell phone users, many masking the origin of their telephone numbers to increase the likelihood of unsolicited calls being accepted — a practice known as 'spoofing.'

"It’s like a technology war," Davidson said. "You pass a law like the Do Not Call Registry and then you see people go around it and frankly, a lot of times, they are violating the law and the question is: can you track them down?"

The TRACED Act was approved by the Senate in April, and it’s one of the bills under consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives this week.