FBI warns scammers impersonating government agencies

FBI warns of government scams

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

BOSTON (WWLP) – The FBI is seeing an increase in reports of scams that falsely represent being a government agency in an effort to get your personal and financial information.

The FBI Boston Division say scammers are targeting New Englanders through unsolicited telephone calls or emails claiming to be a representative of a government agency, including the FBI. According to the FBI, federal agencies do not call or e-mail individuals threatening arrest or demanding money. Scammers often spoof caller ID information, and these phone calls are fraudulent even if they appear to be coming from an agency’s legitimate phone number. Recipients should hang up immediately and report the call.

Fraudulent e-mails may seem real as they may use pictures of the FBI Director and/or the FBI seal and letterhead. You can spot a scam e-mail by looking for misspellings, missing words, and incorrect grammar.

In many cases the scammers use intimidation tactics such as threats of arrest, loss of property, and freezing financial accounts. Hang up on the caller. If it’s an email, do not open attachments and delete.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 12,827 people reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2020, with losses totaling $109,938,030. At the Boston Division, which includes all of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, 405 complaints were filed with financial losses totaling $3,789,407.

  • 44 victims in Maine reported financial losses totaling $32,252
  • 270 victims in Massachusetts reported financial losses totaling $3,254,895
  • 38 victims in New Hampshire reported losing $89,382
  • 53 victims in Rhode Island lost approximately $412,878.

If you think you are a victim of this type of scam and suffered a financial loss, please file a report with your local law enforcement agency and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

The FBI will never:

  • Call or e-mail private citizens to demand payment or threaten arrest. You will also not be asked to wire a “settlement” to avoid arrest.
  • Ask you to use large sums of your own money to help catch a criminal.
  • Ask you for wire transfers or gift cards.
  • Call you about “frozen” Social Security numbers or to coordinate inheritances.

People can confirm that they have been contacted by an actual FBI employee by calling the FBI Boston Division at 857-386-2000 and ask to be connected directly.

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