HOLT, Fla., May 25, 2022—New reports show scammers are reviving an old tactic to gain trust.
Scammers are emailing and texting pictures of real and doctored law enforcement credentials and badges to prove they are legitimate to scam people out of money.
They may change the picture or use a different name, agency or badge number, but the basic scam is the same, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Federal law enforcement agencies are warning the public to be skeptical of email and text messages claiming to be someone from a government or law enforcement agency. No one in federal law enforcement will send photographs of credentials or badges to demand any kind of payment, and neither will government employees.
The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Department of Labor OIG, NASA OIG, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined forces to issue this scam alert.
How a government imposter works
These scams primarily use telephone to make contact, but scammers may also use email, text message, social media or U.S. mail.
Scammers pretend to be from a known agency or organization to gain trust.
They say there is a problem or a prize, pressure victims to act immediately and give specific pay instructions.
Tips to protect against scammers
- Do not take immediate action.
- Stop and take a deep breath when receiving a communication that causes a strong emotional response. Hang up or ignore the message. Talk to someone trustworthy.
- Do not transfer money. Do not buy a gift card. Never pay someone who insists payment with a gift card, prepaid debit card, Internet currency or cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer or by mailing cash. Scammers use these forms of payment because they are hard to trace.
- Be skeptical. Call local law enforcement using a non-emergency number to verify if suspicious about the caller. Do not believe scammers when they “transfer” calls to another official or provide another phone number as proof of their validity. Scammers can create fake numbers and identities. Do not trust caller ID.
- Be cautious of any contact claiming to be from a government agency or law enforcement agency informing about an unrecognizable problem. Do not provide personal information, even if the caller already has some information.
- Do not click on links or attachments.
- Block unwanted calls and text messages.
If a victim
- Stop talking to the scammer.
- Notify financial institutions and safeguard accounts.
- Contact local law enforcement and file a police report.
- File a complaint with the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov and with the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
- Keep financial transaction information and the record of all communications with the scammer.
For more information about scams
Visit the ftc.gov/scam to read about common scams.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office news release