The FBI New Orleans Division and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) have received reports related to a telephone scam in which the caller purports to be from a government agency, to include the FBI and IRS. The callers are using intimidation tactics and often try to take control of the situation from the beginning of the telephone conversation.
In some instances, the caller pretends to be a U.S. government official advising the recipient of the call that the IRS has charges against them and threatens legal action and arrest. Targeted Louisiana residents who reported the calls often stated that the telephone calls were spoofed telephone numbers that displayed the name and telephone number of a legitimate federal, state, or local government agency and thus hid the true identity and origin of the actual caller.
If the recipient questions the caller in any way, the caller becomes more aggressive. The telephone scam callers continue to intimidate by threatening to confiscate the recipient’s property, freeze bank accounts, and have the recipient arrested and placed in jail. The reported alleged charges include defrauding the government, money owed for back taxes, lawsuits pending against the recipient, and nonpayment of taxes.
The recipients are advised that it will cost thousands of dollars in fees/court costs to resolve this matter. The caller creates a sense of urgency by saying that being arrested can be avoided and fees reduces if the recipient acquires money orders, wires funds to an undisclosed account, or purchases MoneyPak cards to cover the fees in order to dissolve their alleged government debt.
Recipients have often received specific instructions from the scammers on where to purchase the money orders and/or MoneyPak cards and the amount to put on each card. The scammers then warn the recipient not to tell anyone about the issue and to remain on the telephone until the MoneyPak cards are purchased and the MoneyPak codes are provided to the caller. The telephone scammers state that if the call is disconnected for any reason, the recipient would be arrested. Some recipients reported once the caller obtained the MoneyPak codes, they were advised that the transaction took too long and additional fees were required.
Law enforcement personnel have advised that call recipients ranged in age from young college students to elderly residents and reported that the caller spoke with broken English or stated the caller had an Indian accent. The public is reminded that the FBI does not call private citizens requesting money. There are a number of ways people with criminal intentions can obtain your name, phone number, or e-mail address. The FBI reminds you to limit the information you freely provide online, including on social media sites. Phone scammers typically use fear, intimidation, and threats to get a victim to send money.
To protect against fraud:
- Never give out personal information to someone you did not initiate contact with.
- Before signing up for a contest or e-mail distribution list, make sure the business has policy not to share information or sell it to a third party.
- Be leery of anyone you did not initiate contact with who asks for payment using a third party such as MoneyPak cards, MoneyGram, or GreenDot prepaid cards.
- Scammers count on your lack of knowledge, so take the time to educate yourself about any offer your receive.
Individuals receiving such calls or needing to report any Internet related crime can file a complaint through the FBi’s Internet Crime Complain Center.