SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Just because a phone number pops up on your caller ID doesn’t mean the person with that phone number is actually calling you. In a crime known as “spoofing,” an increasing number of crooks and con artists are passing off other people’s phone numbers as their own to help them pull off scams.

Rick Zawadski is dealing with the effects of a spoofing attack on his personal phone number. Since last week, the East Bay resident has received hundreds of calls from people who have received calls that seem to be coming from Zawadski’s phone. The calls are actually coming from someone else, who is probably using a robo-dialer.

“I suspect these are computer generated calls that are going through,” Zawadski told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch.

Zawadski said since it started, his phone has been ringing two-to-three times a minute as call recipients dial him back.

“I started getting messages saying ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Why are you calling me?’” Zawadski said. “It’s an annoyance to me. It makes my phone useless, essentially.”

Police said con artists and telemarketers like to spoof phone numbers, usually from the area code they are calling to, because it enables them to disguise who they are and increases their chances of getting their calls answered.

While it is illegal to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information for malicious reasons, authorities said it is difficult to catch the people who do it.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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