The FBI Charlotte Field Office is warning the public of a recent phone scam that spoofs, or fraudulently displays, the FBI’s real telephone number on the victim’s caller ID.
The scammer impersonates a government official and uses intimidation tactics, such as the threat of arrest, to demand payment of money purportedly owed to the government. These claims are false. The calls are not from the FBI. The FBI does not call private citizens to request money or threaten arrest.
FBI Charlotte has seen its main number, 704-672-6100, spoofed in this manner recently, as well as the numbers of its Resident Agencies, throughout North Carolina. Other FBI offices across the country have also seen this crime recently.
This scam is called government impersonation fraud and is a crime in which scammers impersonate government officials to collect money. The scammers often threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm or the release of sensitive data about their intended victim. In some cases, the intended target may be told there is a federal warrant for their arrest, which would be dismissed in exchange for immediate payment to the caller.
The caller will oftentimes know the full name, extensive background, birthdate, family members, and/or personal cell phone number of the intended victim. There are several ways individuals with criminal intentions can obtain this information. However, many times the victims themselves have disclosed their personal information online.
To avoid becoming the victim of government impersonation fraud and scams:
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.
- Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact.
- Remember a government agency or legitimate business will never ask you to pay a fee or a fine using a third-party form of payment, such as a gift card.
- Take the time to educate yourself about any offer you receive; scammers count on your lack of knowledge.
- Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don’t sound right or sound too good to be true, hang up.
According to the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), more than 12,000 people nationwide have reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2019, with losses totaling over $112,000,000.
More information about government impersonation schemes and other online frauds can be found at www.fbi.gov. The FBI strongly encourages anyone contacted by a caller who says they are with the FBI or any government agency to verify the information with their local FBI Field Office or the government agency in question.
Additionally, the public should be aware that other law enforcement agencies in our community, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Social Security Administration, and local law enforcement agencies are also being impersonated using similar tactics as described above. If you receive a call of this nature, please contact these government agencies’ offices and verify that a representative of their agency contacted you in order to avoid being victimized.
Individuals who have been victimized by this type of scam are encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting https://www.ic3.gov.