FBI Warns That Government Officials Are Being Impersonated In Widespread Extortion Schemes

Cybercriminals are using fake credentials belonging to well-known US government and law enforcement agencies. They are also spoofing authentic phone numbers in these scam attempts, the FBI revealed in a public service announcement published on Monday:

Scammers will often spoof authentic phone numbers and names and use fake credentials of well-known government and law enforcement agencies. Scammers will use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim; and will urge victims not to tell anyone else, including family, friends, or financial institutions, about what is occurring.

Payment is demanded in various forms, with the most prevalent being prepaid cards, wire transfers, and cash, sent by mail or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs. Victims are asked to read prepaid card numbers over the phone or text a picture of the card. Mailed cash will be hidden or packaged to avoid detection by normal mail scanning devices. Wire transfers are often sent overseas so funds almost immediately vanish.

Jennifer Tisdale, CEO of GRIMM had this to say:

“Given the current geopolitical climate, the opportunity is ripe for malicious actors to leverage cyber attacks against financial institutions or other entities to score a PII payload. Internet crimes tend to have a higher success rate when leveraging current events or by impersonating law enforcement or the U.S. Government as most hesitate to question or to push back on inquiries seemingly being posed by what they deem as trusted entities. Always verify who is soliciting information before providing.”

I’ve seen scams like this in Canada and highlighted them on the blog when I come across them. Thus I am far from shocked that similar scams are happening south of the border. It reinforces that everyone has to be on their toes to avoid getting scammed.

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