WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The FBI Charlotte Field Office wants the public to be aware that a recent phone scam fraudulently displays, or spoofs, the FBI’s real telephone number on the victim’s caller ID.
“The scammer impersonates a government official and uses intimidation tactics, such as the threat of arrest, to demand payment of money purportedly owed to the government,” the FBI Charlotte Field Office said in a news release. “These claims are false. The calls are not from the FBI. The FBI does not call private citizens to request money or threaten arrest.”
Officials say that the FBI’s Charlotte office has seen its main number (704-672-6100) spoofed in this scam along with numbers of its resident agencies across North Carolina.
These scams where callers impersonate government officials to collect money are called government impersonation frauds.
“The scammers often threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm or the release of sensitive data about their intended victim,” the new release states. "In some cases, the intended target may be told there is a federal warrant for their arrest, which would be dismissed in exchange for immediate payment to the caller.
“The caller will oftentimes know the full name, extensive background, birthdate, family members, and/or personal cell phone number of the intended victim.”
The Internet Crimes Complaint Center says more than 12,000 people nationwide have reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2019, with losses totaling over $112 million.
The FBI offered the following tips to avoid being a victim of one of these crimes:
- 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.
- A government agency or legitimate business will never ask you to pay a fee or a fine using a third-party form of payment, such as a gift card.
- 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 or sound too good to be true, hang up.