FBI Warns of Online Scammers Posing as Government Officials and Law Enforcement


The FBI published a warning on Monday about scammers impersonating government or law enforcement officials before attempting to extort people and steal personal information.

The advisory states that scammers are spoofing genuine phone numbers and names while using fake credentials from well-known government and law enforcement agencies.

“The scammers will use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak or leave a message to anyone other than their targeted victim; and will urge victims not to tell anyone else, including family, friends or financial institutions, what’s going on,” the FBI explained.

“Payment is demanded in various forms, the most common being prepaid cards, wire transfers and cash, sent by post or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs. Victims are advised to scan prepaid card numbers over the phone or texting a photo of the card.Money sent by post will be hidden or packaged to avoid detection by normal mail scanning devices.Bank transfers are often sent overseas, so the funds disappear almost immediately.

Scammers usually call victims and say their identity was used in a crime before asking them to verify their social security number and date of birth.

Some victims are threatened with prosecution or arrest if they do not provide information or pay to have the charges dropped.

Others are called and questioned about failing to show up for jury duty or other local fines. The FBI said the victims were told they either missed a court date or had an arrest warrant that requires payment to be resolved.

Sometimes attackers may even send text messages to victims claiming to be government agencies needing passport or driver’s license information for document renewal.

“Doctors are contacted to notify them if their medical license has expired, or if their license has been used to commit a crime. The scammers will threaten to revoke their license or registration, and the medical professional is forced to renew his license to protect his professional reputation,” the FBI said.

“Many victims report extortion by law enforcement and government impersonators in connection with other types of fraud. A romance scam victim begins to realize they are being defrauded and ceases communication with the scammer.Often the victim is contacted by a law enforcement impersonator who attempts to extort the victim to clear their name of participating in a crime or to assist in the capture of the love scammer.”

The FBI added that some victims of lottery scams are contacted by cybercriminals who demand fees or fees.

The FBI reiterated that no law enforcement agency will ever ask you for money and urged people to be careful who they share their personal information with over the phone and online.

Erich Kron, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, noted that social engineering and scams often rely on eliciting a strong emotional reaction from victims, causing them to miss or ignore red flags. which might otherwise help them avoid falling into the scam.

“Few government agencies cause as much fear as the IRS because they have broad law enforcement powers and people are often confused by the US tax system, which makes them more likely to believe they have made a mistake and need to correct it.U.S. government entities such as the Social Security Administration, are the primary source of income for many older Americans, making a threat to income a very stressful ordeal and making them susceptible to from falling into related scams,” Kron said.

“Whenever you receive a text, phone call or email that elicits a strong emotional reaction, the best thing a person can do is take a deep breath and treat it very suspiciously. Most government agencies won’t communicate via email or phone, especially when it comes to initially notifying someone of a problem.”

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