The FBI reportedly warned this month of a nationwide scam by perpetrators “spoofing” the phone numbers from bureau offices in seven states.
The scammers are believed to have imitated numbers belonging to field offices in California, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin thus far, according to the bureau. Callers are telling targets a warrant exists for them that can be dismissed by a federal court in exchange for a payment, according to CNN.
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Perpetrators of such schemes have often conducted extensive background research on their targets to create the illusion of authenticity, CNN says.
The FBI said there are also variations on the operation in which victims are told their Social Security number has been linked to money laundering or used to open bank accounts the government is preparing to seize, and that the victim must transfer their money to a government account. Targets are frequently told they could be subject to loss of funds or arrest if they fail to make the transfer.
Scams whose perpetrators impersonate government officials are reportedly at an all-time high. Americans have been bilked out of at least $450 million by callers claiming to be government officials since 2014, according to CNN, citing Federal Trade Commission data.