CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio law enforcement and Cleveland's Housing Court is now reporting a growing number of impostors calling local residents, posing as government officials, asking for personal information, credit card numbers, or even cash.
Cleveland Housing Court Judge W. Mona' Scott told News 5 her court has received hundreds of calls from residents in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, who received calls from a con artist posing as court officials.
Scott said the bogus calls started on Dec. 15 and show the court's main number on caller ID.
“It is asking for credit card information, and I think my chief specialist said they’re also asking for cash," Scott said.
“I appreciate those in Cleveland and Bratenahl knowing that this is scam, that it didn’t sound right, and that they alerted us because we would have no idea that this was going on.”
Jeff Johnson, Cleveland Housing Court Administrator, told News 5 the court's IT Department is investigating, and if the bogus calls continue, the case will be turned over to the city department of public safety and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department.
“They’ve hijacked our phone number and they’re using the Cleveland Housing Court name, and prestige, and brand," Johnson said.
“Saying that someone in their family is in jail because of the housing court and they have to bail them out.”
“And because Indiana and Pennsylvania are adjacent states, they’re using that advantage, that their loved one is in Ohio, an adjoining state and has been put in jail.”
“So the caller ID shows Cleveland Housing Court with our phone number and that’s how we found out.”
Johnson said Cleveland Housing Court will not call to request money or personal information for payment over the phone and if that happens, residents should politely hang up and call the court directly to verify the authenticity of that call.