Monongahela police number hacked in scam

February 21, 2014
A woman who apparently was the target of a telephone scam got a call that purportedly was coming from the city of Monongahela.

A telephone call received earlier this week by a Carroll Township woman showed even police departments are not immune to computer hackers.

The nonemergency number for Monongahela Police Department apparently has been compromised. Monongahela police Chief Brian Tempest was notified by Carroll police Chief Paul Brand after the woman alerted his department.

The woman told police she answered her telephone about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when the caller ID showed it was coming from the city of Monongahela. But the caller had a Middle Eastern accent and claimed a complaint was registered against the Carroll woman.

The caller even identified herself using the name of a female officer in the department.

“She told our resident that a complaint had been filed and if she didn’t take the call, she would be arrested in 45 minutes,” Brand said. “That was strange, in itself, since she was already taking the call.”

When the Carroll resident began questioning the caller, the other woman became frustrated and hung up.

“The Carroll resident started asking who, what and why,” Tempest said. “And when she hung up, she called Carroll police.”

Tempest said it is alarming that the technology exists that allows something like this to happen.

“They took time to go on the Internet, find the Monongahela police department number and do enough research to get the name of an officer,” Brand said. “And the caller ID came up as the city of Monongahela, which is how it comes up. They apparently knew not to have it as the Monongahela police department.

“These callers try every angle,” Brand added. “We don’t know if she was looking for personal information or money. But this is a new twist.”

Tempest suggested that if residents are suspicious when they get a call from a person claiming to be a police officer, they should ask for a number and offer to call the officer right back.

Police from Monongahela and Carroll want others who may have received similar calls to contact their local police departments.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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