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 Detectives in Washoe County, Nevada disclosed that they learned of a local resident who had been contacted electronically and by phone by a scammer posing as law enforcement who told the targeted scam victim that his bank account had been linked to criminal activity and that in order to stop the crime, the scam victim had to withdraw the $15,000 he had in his account and deposit it into a designated cryptocurrency account through a Bitcoin ATM.  Fortunately, while the fearful scam victim complied with the directions of the scammers, he also recognized that it was a scam immediately thereafter and promptly notified the police who were able to recover the funds from the Bitcoin ATM.  Washoe County detectives indicated that other country residents have been less fortunate, losing more than $500,000 to this scam already this year.


It is easy to recognize one of these impersonation scams.  Neither the FBI, IRS, SSA or any federal agency will initiate communication with you by a phone call. Neither does any government agency suggest transferring money into cryptocurrency.

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.  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.

As for the scam that snared the Nevada scam victim, no law enforcement officer would ever advise anyone to withdraw their funds and deposit them into a Bitcoin account.  Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a favorite of scammers because they are readily transferred anonymously.

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