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 Augusta Country Virginia Sheriff’s Office reported that a man was swindled out of $14,000 in an impostor-cryptocurrency scam.  The scam started with a phone call to the victim from someone posing as a law enforcement officer affiliated with the Social Security Administration.  The targeted victim was told that he was being investigated for illegal drug money having been deposited into his bank account.  He was then told that he had 24 hours to move his money out of that bank account before it would be frozen and inaccessible to him.  He was then instructed to go to a specific local grocery store which contained a Bitcoin ATM and to deposit his money into a Bitcoin account designated by the scammer.  Too late he realized he had been scammed and had been scammed.


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 for the victim of this specific scam, there would be no reason for someone connected to the Social Security Administration to be involved in a law enforcement action against drug traffickers.  Nor would any law enforcement officer recommend moving money into a cryptocurrency account.

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.

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