MAINE, USA — The FBI Boston Division, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, and Securities Administrator Judith Shaw are warning people across New England about scammers calling and acting as government agents.
On these calls, the FBI says scammers tell the person on the line that charges have been or soon will be, filed against them, and threaten to confiscate that person's property, freeze their bank accounts, or have them arrested unless payment is made immediately.
Reportedly, the caller gets more aggressive if the recipient questions them. Recipients are advised that it will cost thousands of dollars in fees or court costs to resolve the case, and the caller instructs people to wire “settlement” money or provide payment by prepaid cards or gift cards to avoid being arrested.
“Nobody wants to be the subject of a law enforcement investigation, and scammers are using that to their advantage to try and intimidate people into just handing over their hard-earned money. We’re asking you not to fall for it,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “It’s important to resist the urge to act immediately and verify who is actually contacting you.”
Frey and Shaw warn against another scam from a caller claiming to be from the IRS.
The caller reportedly tells the recipient that because they had previously invested in binary options, they are now an accessory to an international drug-smuggling ring and having an offshore bank account. The caller says he would need to notify the local District Attorney and the Maine Attorney General and then plays what sounds like a police scanner, claiming to be having communication with the law enforcement officials via two-way radio. The caller says they could settle the matter by either having “agents” go to the individual’s house to arrest them, or pay a $1,000 bond.
“If you receive a call like this, don’t be fooled,” Frey said. “No government agency will call you to demand you settle alleged criminal violations by either agreeing to arrest or paying a sum of money.”
The FBI said scammers often spoof caller ID information, and these phone calls are fraudulent even if they appear to be coming from an agency’s legitimate phone number.
The FBI will never:
- Call or e-mail private citizens to demand payment or threaten arrest. You will also not be asked to wire a “settlement” to avoid arrest.
- Ask you to use large sums of your own money to help catch a criminal.
- Ask you for wire transfers or gift cards.
- Call you about “frozen” Social Security numbers or to coordinate inheritances.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), impersonation scam losses in 2020 totaled $109,938,030. In Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, 405 complaints were filed with losses totaling $3,789,407, the FBI Boston Division said in a release.
If you think you are a victim of this scam and have lost money, the FBI encourages you to file a report with your local law enforcement agency and the IC3.