Beginning in November 2012, the company called Top Hat Home Comfort Services in Ottawa noticed that a telemarketing company was using their business phone number to dupe consumers into ordering duct cleaning through the telemarketer.
Typically, the consumer is lead to believe they are hiring Top Hat Home Comfort Services, but in reality they are hiring independent duct cleaners affiliated with the persons operating the telemarketing scam.
Top Hat Home Comfort Services have been advising inquiring clients that that they do not participate in any form of telemarketing and hence contacted Ottawa Police. The ensuing police investigation by Central District Investigators determined that an offshore telemarketing company “Spoofed” the name and phone number of Ottawa’s Top Hat Home Comfort Services.
Spoofing is a scam whereby nefarious telemarketers sell services using a computer program that shows the phone number of a legitimate business on the call display of unsuspecting consumers. The telemarketing company does not necessarily verbally identify which company they represent, as they count on the unsuspecting consumer to rely on the call display. The legitimate business is unaware that their phone number is being ‘borrowed’. Telemarketers call up to 20 times a day using insulting, threatening and ridiculing tactics to pressure consumers to accept services being offered, in this case duct cleaning. These tactics have a negative effect on the reputation of legitimate businesses. Once the service is performed by an independent contractor, the ‘spoofing’ telemarketer and contractor divide the proceeds.
The Ottawa Police Service is asking the public to be vigilant and verify any duct cleaning work appointments by phoning the legitimate business to confirm they have been hired to perform the work. It is also important to note that this type of scam, through false call display, could occur with any home service.
Constable Tim Murray
Barrhaven Community Police Officer
Ottawa Police Service