Scam Central: Government Imposters Are Back

Scammers have long impersonated government officials, but their new tactics are more intimidating than ever before.

Posted: Nov 16, 2021 9:22 AM

Scammers have long impersonated government officials, but their new tactics are more intimidating than ever before.

1. How does this scam work?

You receive a letter in the mail that looks very official. It claims to come from a court or law enforcement agency. Scammers combine personal information collected from data breaches with official looking seals and watermarks to make the correspondence seem legitimate.

The letter informs you that you have violated federal or state statutes and offers you two choices: cooperate as a witness or face indictment for serious crimes. Unfortunately, choosing to cooperate as a witness requires you to pay thousands of dollars in “legal fees.”

2. Why is this scam so popular?

Whether or not you respond to the letter, they follow up with a call. Con artists use scare tactics, threatening you with jail time or other serious consequences if you don’t pay up. The more you engage with these scammers, the more aggressive they may become.

3. Can you give us an example?

One person reported this kind of experience on the BBB Scam Tracker. They said, “I received a voicemail message to return a call to the Sheriff’s office. When I called, a man said I was summoned to court and was notified by mail of this summons. I kept questioning him about this mailing. The man knew my address and middle name.”

4. How can we avoid this scam?

Verify correspondence with government agencies. If you receive a piece of mail or a call that seems suspicious, take a step back and make sure it’s legitimate before you take any action.
Don’t engage with scammers. As soon as you know you are dealing with a scammer, cease communication. Stop answering calls, letters, or emails and block any numbers that have called you about the scam.
Report government impostor scams to the FBI. Help the Federal Bureau of Investigation catch scammers by reporting your experience.

For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/ScamTracker or call our office at (812)-473-0202

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