The FBI is warning the public about a phone scam that spoofs the FBI's real telephone number on the victim's caller ID.
The scammer reportedly impersonates a government official and tries to intimidate the victim into making monetary payments purportedly owed to the government.
The FBI says scammers have spoofed the phone numbers of FBI offices in California, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
Not only has the FBI's main number (310-477-6565) been used, but the phone number to the FBI office located in Santa Maria (805-346-2728) has also been spoofed, as well as West Covina's (626-919-3434).
The FBI says the caller in this scam may tell the intended victim that there is a federal warrant for their arrest which would be dismissed by the court in exchange for immediate payment. The caller often knows the name, background, and personal cell phone number of the intended victim.
Victims may also be told the following:
- That their social security number has been compromised and linked to money laundering.
- That their social security number has been used to open bank accounts and that the government would seize those accounts.
- To protect their money, funds should be transferred to accounts specifically set up by the government which would be protected until the situation is resolved, at which point the money would then be returned.
- Failure to transfer money could lead to loss of funds and possible arrest.
- To meet with a Social Security Administration Agent to verify identity; once complete, a new SSN would be issued so that a new bank account could be opened.
The FBI says it does not call private citizens to request money or threaten arrest. Officials say there are a number of ways criminals can get your name, phone number, or email address, and they suggest you limit the amount of personal information provided online, including on social media sites.
To avoid becoming the victim of a scam, the FBI says you should:
- Always be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.
- Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don't have ties and did not initiate contact.
- Before signing up for a contest or e-mail distribution list, make sure the business has a policy not to share your information or sell it to a third party.
- Scammers count on your lack of knowledge, so take the time to educate yourself about any offer you receive.
- Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don't sound right, hang up.
The FBI encourages anyone contacted by someone who says they are with the FBI to verify the information with their local FBI Field Office. Contact information for all 56 FBI field offices can be found at www.fbi.gov.
If you've been a victim of this type of scam, you can file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.