Public Safety

Text scam claims loved one is dead, Johnson County Medical Examiner warns

A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)
A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is looking into a text message scam that claims to come from the Johnson County Medical Examiner Department.

The sheriff’s office said it received a report of the phony text message on Monday.

The message stated that a family member — who was identified by name — had died and instructed the recipient to reply to the text message. If the recipient had replied, the sheriff’s office said it likely would have made the recipient’s cellphone vulnerable to malware, making the phone and all its information available to a hacker.

The text also included an old address for the Medical Examiner Department, as well as a fake phone number.

Sgt. Brad Kunkel said the text message came from a “spoofed” number, making it impossible to track down the sender.

The Johnson County Medical Examiner Department warned that it does not notify people of deaths via text message. Whenever a death notification is needed, law enforcement will deliver that information, and in person if possible.

“This is another reminder that cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to access your device and steal your information,” Kunkel said. “If you receive a suspicious text or email do not click on any of the content or reply to the message, just delete it.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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