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Ft. Lauderdale Dentist Claims Phone Number Was "Hijacked"

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Fort Lauderdale dentist says her phone line was "hijacked" by scammers.

The phone has been ringing off the hook at Dr. Patty's Dental boutique in Ft. Lauderdale, but the calls aren't coming from clients.

"Stop calling my {expletive} phone," one of the messages said.

"We were in complete shock because people were calling us asking us why we were calling them and they were yelling. They weren't asking in a normal tone," said Dr. April Patterson, known as Dr. Patty. "They were upset that we had called them asked them for personal and financial information."

Patterson says the calls started Thursday night, and by Monday morning there had been 5,000 of them to the business's landline.  She says additional calls came in to a cell phone.

"Seven to eight calls per minute," operations manager, Danielle Wright, explained. "You were on the phone speaking to someone, the other line was beeping. That call disconnected and the other line was beeping. You couldn't breathe between calls."

CBS4's Maggie Newland listened to more of the messages with Dr. Patty:

"I'm going to report you guys to the FBI if you ever call my phone again."

"You guys are full of {expletive} now you need to quit calling people."

By talking to callers, Dr. Patty and her staff were able to piece together what was happening.

The callers, from all over the country had all received some sort of scam call.

Some were told they'd receive money from the federal government if they provided their checking account number or other information.

"They're pleading for their money back, I feel horrible," added Dr. Patty.

The calls are coming from a 202 area code but somehow being forwarded to the Fort Lauderdale office.

"Our number has basically been hijacked," said Dr. Patty.

The office contacted local and federal agencies to try to stop the phone calls which have taken a toll on business.

"I can't function, my staff can't function. The phone calls are coming in. We can't stop the phone calls," Dr. Patty explained.  "We can't get phone calls in from our clients, our clients are having to send us emails, we've had to change our phone number.

"Friday was completely dedicated to trying to figure out what was going on with the phones who was doing what, what was going on, a whole wasted time the last two days," said Wright.

By Monday, the calls slowed down some, but Dr. Patty and her staff just want them to stop for good.

"It's not me and that's the thing people think, it's me they think it's my business and they're saying we know who you are and I guarantee you Dr. Patty's dental boutique is not affiliated with whoever is making these calls," said Dr. Patty.

Ft. Lauderdale Police are working on the case. According to Detective Deanna Greenlaw, detectives assigned with the Secret Service Task Force are investigating.

Police offered the following tips if you're contacted by a potential scammer:

Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.

Record the time and date of the call and the number of the person calling.

Record the phone number of the person calling.

Call your local police department to report the call.

If you are concerned someone has your personal or financial information, call a credit monitoring agency that will alert you of any suspicious activity.

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