JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Impersonating the FBI is nothing new.
But the agency says these impersonators are targeting North Florida residents more frequently.
“We have an older population that lives here, sometimes just part of the year, we also have a lot of people just coming in and out of our state, because they are traveling here,” said Amanda Videll, the Public Affairs Officer for FBI Jacksonville.
The FBI says “Multiple versions of the government impersonation scam have been reported in recent days, all of which exploit intimidation tactics.”
One version is a victim getting a call from a sweepstakes company offering cash, but when the victim doesn’t give personal info, the call ends, only to get another call hours later from someone claiming to be with FBI investigating the sweepstakes company.
“The caller, who ended up being the scammer in the situation began to threaten them for not, what they say so-called, supporting investigation,” Videll explained. “We would not threaten anyone in our investigations, and we do have methods for being able to verify who our employees are.”
The FBI also has ways of tracking these government impersonations.
In 2019, Florida was number two in the country for the number of scam victims.
Nationwide government impersonation scams got $124 million from victims.
“They are purposely targeting people that don’t have criminal histories that generally follow the law and want to be a friend of law enforcement. And that fear factor is what often makes these things work,” said Videll.
Videll said it’s important to know you can’t pay your way out of trouble and the FBI won’t threaten you into participating.
Though scammers are being creative in their efforts, Videll said you should pay attention to those red flags.
If the FBI calls you, you can verify their identity by calling the local field office at 904-248-7000.
If you are a victim to financial loss or identity theft you can file a report on this website or with local law enforcement.