Scam Warning: Scammers Impersonate Government Officials
(3 Minute Read) – The FBI is warning about a new scam that could be heading straight to your text messages. The new warning says scammers are posing as law enforcement to extort your personal information—and they’re doing it by sending you fake text messages.
How It Works
According to the FBI, scammers will “spoof” authentic phone numbers and names and use fake credentials of well-known government and law enforcement agencies. The fraudsters will threaten the victim or tell them their personal information has been compromised and needs verification. Here are some of the most common tactics reported to the FBI in this scam:
- The scammer tells the victim their identity was used in a crime and they must identify their personal information including a social security number and date of birth. The victim is threatened with arrest or prison if they don’t pay to remove the charges or assist in the “investigation” by handing over their personal information.
- The victim is accused of not reporting for jury duty. The fraudster says the victim has to make a payment to settle a fine for not showing up to court and if they don’t, they could be arrested.
- Scammers send text messages, claiming to be from a government agency, asking for personal information to renew a passport or driver’s license.
- The victim gets a notification that their personal information has been compromised and they must contact the agency immediately.
- Scammers are also going after medical professionals, saying their medical licenses have expired and they need to pay to renew it.
In these fraud cases, scammers typically use an urgent or aggressive tone, telling the victims they must act immediately and that they should not discuss the incident with anyone else, including family, friends, or even Unitus.
If you suspect you’re a victim of fraud, you should contact Unitus immediately.
What Scammers Want
When these scammers find a victim, they’ll demand payment in various forms, the most common being prepaid gift cards, wire transfers, and cash—either sent by mail or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs. Victims are usually asked to read prepaid card numbers over the phone or to text a picture of the card.
Remember, law enforcement or government agencies will never contact you by telephone to demand any kind of payment or to ask for personal information. Any legitimate investigation or legal action is done in person or by official letter.
What You Can Do
- If you are a victim, stop communicating with the scammers immediately.
- Notify Unitus so we can help safeguard any financial accounts.
- Contact local police and file a police report. You can also file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
- Make sure you keep any evidence that can be used to find the scammers, including transaction information, prepaid cards, and all phone, text, or email communications.
Take a moment to review our Fraud Prevention Checklist.
Contact us right away if you think you’re a fraud victim. You can learn more about common scams and how to avoid them on our Security page.