89ºF

Government impersonators target North Florida residents

FBI: Federal agencies do not threaten individuals or demand immediate payment

photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Scammers are increasing their efforts to target residents across north Florida with fake calls from the IRS or other government agencies, the FBI Jacksonville Division said.

There are many versions of the government impersonation scam, and they all exploit intimidation tactics, FBI officials said.

The caller typically advises the scam target that charges will soon be filed against them, and threatens to confiscate victims' property, freeze their bank accounts, or have them arrested unless payment is made.

If the scam target questions the caller, the caller becomes more aggressive.

The victims are told that it will cost thousands of dollars in fees or court costs to resolve the matter, and the caller typically instructs people to wire “settlement” money or provide payment via prepaid cards or gift cards to avoid arrest.

"Be advised, federal agencies do not call or email individuals threatening them or demanding that they send money," FBI officials said in a news release. "Scammers often spoof caller ID information, and these phone calls are fraudulent even if they appear to be coming from a federal agency’s legitimate phone number."

The FBI said victims should hang up immediately and report the call.

All types of fraud schemes and scams can be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.

Filing a complaint allows analysts from the FBI to identify leads and patterns from the hundreds of complaints that are received daily.

The IC3 then refers the complaints, along with their analyses, to the relevant law enforcement agency for follow-up.

In addition, if you think you have been the victim of an IRS impersonation scam, please file a report online with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.