(COLORADO SPRINGS) — We’re learning more about the warnings from FBI Denver about a telephone spoofing scam, where callers are identifying themselves as an FBI agent from the Colorado Springs FBI office, and scamming people out of their money.
“Law enforcement is never going to reach out to you by phone or by email and ask you to provide personal information or ask you to send money,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Leonard Carollo of FBI Denver.
Carollo told FOX21News.com that the scammers are calling people and telling them they were victims of identity theft, and that in order to protect their money they need to move bank account funds to other formats such as gift cards or through cryptocurrency, and then steal their money.
“Before providing any information or providing any financial information; like a credit card number, a banking account number, moving money to a gift card and providing that gift card information, we tell people to verify the identity of whom they are speaking with,” advised Carollo.
One way to do that, according to Carollo, is to look up the number for your local FBI office or law enforcement agency and call them to verify, or go to the agency in person and speak with someone directly.
“They can be very manipulative, [the scammers] have time on their hands, so they are just sitting there trying to contact as many people as possible, and if just one or two people send them money, then that’s a success for them,” warned Carollo.
In addition to this scam, there are several other spoofing scams out there that FBI Denver wants the public to be aware of.
“There is the lottery scam, where people will be contacted and told, ‘Hey, you’ve won this lottery prize, but in order to collect it, you need to pay something upfront… Another one we see during tax season… is an income tax-type scam, when individuals will call people and say, ‘Hey we are with the IRS, you didn’t pay all your taxes, you need to send us [money],” detailed Carollo.
Carollo also warned about romance scams, where people are contacted through dating apps, social media, or email, initially. “The criminals take the time to manipulate and get to know the people they are talking to and will convince them to send some sort of money, cryptocurrency, gift cards… and sometimes they will even send pictures purporting to be a woman or a man, and unfortunately the victims really believe they are talking to actual individuals.”
Carollo also said that people should be wary of companies that call them, especially unsolicited. “And, if a company does it, again if it is unsolicited and the victim or member of the community did not actually reach out to a trusted telephone number of a company that they were contacting — that’s a red flag.”
Carollo further clarified that companies are not going to reach out for financial information, and warned if people do get contacted for this, including companies they might do business with, to be on alert as it could be someone posing as that company.
Carollo warned that if someone is ever contacted by phone, email, or even a pop-up on the computer, or something seems too good to be true or just doesn’t feel right, hang up and contact law enforcement. “We’ve seen technical support scams where someone will be surfing a website and something pops up and says they have a virus or some type of malware on their computer and to call a certain number… that is a type of scam we’ve seen.”
If you have fallen victim to any of these scams, while it is not a 100% guarantee of getting your money back, Carollo said that the sooner the potential victims contact law enforcement or report the alleged crimes, the better. “We can then hopefully contact the bank or possibly the gift card system they may have used, for cryptocurrency – being able to trace that, and try to assist them with recovering those funds.”
If you think you have been a victim of these scams, report it at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov. People can also search the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov to report a potential crime or to learn more about scams going on right now.
“Quite often the scammers behind these schemes are overseas, so it’s not very easy for us to apprehend them but if we can recover the funds the victim lost, that quite often is the success we look for so that the members of our communities that we protect and serve get their money back,” said Carollo.