FBI warns residents of telephone scam trying to get personal info.
BATON ROUGE – The FBI New Orleans Division and the Internet Crime Complaint Center have received reports of a telephone scam where callers pose as a government agency to gain personal information.
The caller sometimes poses as the FBI or IRS and advises the resident that the IRS has charges against them and threatens legal action and even arrest. Targeted Louisiana residents who reported the calls often stated that the telephone calls still displayed the name and telephone number of a legitimate federal, state or local government agency, however it was not the true identity of the caller.
According to reports, if the resident questions the caller, the caller becomes more aggressive. The scam also includes threatening to confiscate the resident's property, freeze bank accounts and have the person arrested. The reports also allege charges may include defrauding the government, money owed for back taxes, lawsuits pending against the resident and nonpayment of taxes. The call will also allege that it will cost thousands of dollars in fees/court costs to resolve the matter.
The scammer states that being arrested can be avoided and fees reduced if the resident acquires money orders, wires funds to a disclosed account or purchases MoneyPak cards to cover the fees in order to eliminate the government debt.
Residents have often received instructions form the scammers on where to buy the money orders and MoneyPak cards and the amount to put on each card. The scammers then warn the resident not to tell anyone about the issue and to remain on the phone until the cards are purchased and the codes are provided to the caller.
The scammers state that if the call is disconnected for any reason, the resident would be arrested. Some reports indicated that once the resident obtained the MoneyPak codes, they were told the transaction took too long and additional fees were required.
Law enforcement have been advised that those who have received the calls ranged in age from college students to elderly residents. Residents also stated that the caller spoke with broken English or with an Indian accent.
The public is reminded that the FBI does not call private citizens requesting money. The FBI reminds residents to limit the information they provide online, including 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 a policy not to share your 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 you receive.
Individuals receiving such calls or needing to report any Internet related crime can file a complaint through the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.