Scammers are impersonating law enforcement and government officials, in an effort to extort money and personal information, the FBI warns.
Often times, the scammers will “spoof” authentic numbers and credentials “of well-known government and law enforcement agencies,” the agency said in an announcement Monday.
The FBI says scammers will say a person’s identity was used in crime, such as a drug deal or money laundering scam, and they will ask for personal information to verify their identity such as their Social Security number and date of birth.
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“The victim is threatened with arrest, prosecution, or imprisonment if they do not pay to remove charges or assist in the investigation against the “real” criminals,” the FBI said.
“Payment is demanded in various forms, with the most prevalent being prepaid cards, wire transfers, and cash, sent by mail or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs. Victims are asked to read prepaid card numbers over the phone or text a picture of the card. Mailed cash will be hidden or packaged to avoid detection by normal mail scanning devices. Wire transfers are often sent overseas so funds almost immediately vanish,” the announcement said.
Scams also come in the form of text messages requiring government IDs to fix a passport renewal.
The FBI urges consumers to protect themselves saying that “officials will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand any form of payment, or to request personal or sensitive information.”