‘Don’t fall for it’: FBI impersonators targeting North Florida residents, agency warns

Federal agencies do not threaten individuals or demand immediate payment, FBI says

Scammers impersonating FBI agents are targeting people in North Florida. They're trying to get their hands on your money and are using threats to get what they want.

If you get a call from someone claiming to represent the FBI, beware! Scammers are targeting Florida residents with government impersonation scams.

According to the FBI Jacksonville Tallahassee Resident Agency, there are many versions of the government impersonation scam, and they all use aggressive intimidation tactics.

Typically, a scammer contacts a victim via phone, text, or email and claims that charges have been, or soon will be, filed against them.

Victims are told that they will be forced to pay significant fees or court costs to resolve the matter if they do not wire “settlement” money or provide payment via prepaid cards or gift cards. The scammer will then threaten to confiscate the victim’s property, freeze their bank accounts, or have them arrested unless payment is made immediately.

“Nobody wants to be the subject of a law enforcement investigation, and scammers are using that knowledge to intimidate people into handing over their hard-earned money. Don’t fall for it,” said Sherri Onks, special agent in charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “It’s important to resist the urge to act immediately and take time to verify who is actually contacting you.”

Be advised, federal agencies do not call or email individuals threatening them or demanding money. 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.

Recipients should hang up immediately and report the call 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 to aid in public awareness and crime-prevention education efforts.

If you think you are a victim of any type of scam and have suffered a loss financially or otherwise, also file a report with your local law enforcement agency and contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov for additional guidance.

FBI Jacksonville spokesperson Amanda Videll joined us on The Morning Show on Wednesday to share more about the scam and how to avoid it:

A scam warning from the FBI about thieves targeting people here in our area trying to trick you into paying them money.