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 Pittsburgh office issued a warning about scam phone calls in which the scammer poses as an FBI agent demanding payment  by a gift card to resolve a criminal investigation they say is being pursued against the targeted scam victim.  In some of these calls, the scammer threatens arrest if you do not make immediate payment.

While the recent warning dealt with phone calls made in the Pittsburgh area, this scam is being done throughout the country.


It is easy to recognize one of these impersonation scams.  Neither the FBI, IRS or SSA will initiate communication with you by a phone call and they will never threaten you with arrest for non-payment of a claim.  Neither does any government agency accept gift cards or cryptocurrency payments.

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.  The calls being made by scammers in Pittsburgh appear on your Caller ID as if they were being made by the FBI although the call is being made from an entirely different number.  Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID.  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.

If you are not a subscriber to and would like to receive  free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is sign up for free using this link.