The FBI’s Los Angeles office warned the public Thursday about a phone scam that fraudulently displays the agency’s real telephone number on the victim’s caller ID.
The scammer impersonates a government official and uses intimidation tactics to demand payment of money purportedly owed to the government, according to agency officials, who said the scammers have spoofed the phone numbers of FBI offices in California, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
The FBI has seen its main number (310-477-6565) spoofed in this manner, among others.
Although residents have been targeted nationwide, recent cases include a number of victims in California. Intended targets may be told 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.
According to the FBI, unsuspecting 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 does not call private citizens to request money or threaten arrest. Individuals who have been victimized by this type of scam are encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting https://www.ic3.gov.