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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – There is a new warning from the FBI about criminals posing as government officials. They are actually scammers trying to convince potential victims that they are going to jail if they don’t pay up.

Scam schemes are nothing new, but the FBI is warning of a resurgence in recent weeks, with criminals posing as law enforcement or government officials.

Between 2017 and 2022, these schemes cost victims $2 billion, according to the federal government.

“These criminals will often impersonate a government official or a large organization that we trust because it’s trustworthy,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.

Sometimes the scheme involves a false arrest warrant that gets you out of jury duty. In other cases, the call claims they’re from the IRS looking for unpaid taxes, or say they’re a federal agent looking for you because you cheated on Social Security.

There are many options for schemes, the BBB says, but they all have one thing in common: they want your money.

“Government agencies will contact you through postal mail, they’re unlikely to contact you by phone, email or text, especially if it’s unsolicited,” Parker said.

Recently, victims have reported that criminals have emailed or texted them purported copies of their official credentials and badges.

This is especially common with Social Security fraud.

“The Social Security Administration will never text or email an official government ID,” Parker said. “If you get an email saying I promise I’m real, that’s a red flag.”

They’ll also offer payment with a gift card or money transfer through the Cash App, Zelle or Venmo services. Don’t do it, because if you do, you won’t get your money back.

“Any unusual payment is going to be something you want to back off,” Parker said.

Victims of phone and internet scams can apply for what is known as IC3. It is the FBI’s Internet Crime Appeals Center. You can file a complaint online from your phone or home computer.

If you are a victim, the sooner you file a complaint, the better chance the FBI will have of catching them, as these scammers often change their base of operations.

Those scammers also prefer high pressure tactics, forcing you to react as quickly as possible without thinking.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of their schemes, hang up and call the agency yourself at the number you’re looking for so you can be sure it’s just a scam.

Do not call the number provided by the alleged “agent”.

Those numbers can be spoofed and will call scammers or their associates.


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