Impostor scams have long been among the most lucrative for scammers. While there are many variations of this scam, the most common variations have involved scammers calling their intended victims on the telephone posing as some governmental agency such as the, FBI, IRS or the Social Security Administration. The scammer then, under a wide variety of pretenses, demands an immediate payment by gift cards, credit card or wired funds. Being asked to pay by gift cards is a definite indication that the call is a scam since no governmental agency requests or accepts payments by gift cards. Alternatively, the scammer demands the victim supply the phony governmental agent with personal information such as your Social Security number which will then be used for identity theft purposes.
Recently the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office issued a warning about such a phone scam in which people are getting calls from scammers posing as FBI agents who tell the targeted victim that their identity was used in a money laundering and drug smuggling operation. They are then told that the only way to avoid prosecution is to pay the FBI agents over the phone through gift cards or credit cards. In one instance a California man lost $45,500 to this scam.
As I have often reminded you, through the simple technique of “spoofing” it is very easy for a scammer to manipulate your Caller ID to make a call coming to you appear legitimate when it is not. Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID. While new technology is making spoofing more difficult for domestic scammers, foreign callers are still able to readily spoof telephone numbers. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Even though your Caller ID may indicate that the call is coming from the FBI, the IRS or some other government agency the call is coming from a scammer. It is important to note that the FBI never collects cash fines ordered by a court and it will not call or email you to demand a payment of threaten arrest. Finally, the FBI will never ask for a payment by way of a gift card.
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