Government representative impressionists rely on non-traditional money transfer methods, such as gift cards
The FBI has released a report on January 28th, which warns about scammers misusing their 202-324-300 phone number, fake badge number, a false name that is revealed during the call in order to trick people into making payments. The threat actors have been using spoofing methods to make people answer calls, never doubting their integrity.
These types of scams refer to government impersonation fraud when the criminals pretend to be from a respectful authority agency and trick people into believing this fact. However, the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) has already reported 13,873 victims that suffered from these types of scams throughout 2019, and the combined monetary losses of victims exceed $14 million.
In this warning released to the public, the agency said that the scam messages received by victims claim that their Social Security Number has been suspended by the FBI, followed by money extortion requests. Luckily, crooks are forced to use non-traditional payment methods, such as Amazon Gift cards, which allows some victims to catch fraudsters in the act. Nevertheless, the vulnerable social groups are still at the highest risk.
Social Security Numbers are important, and threat actors want to cash on that
The main trick that fraudsters use on people is telling them that their SSNs got suspended, and in order to renew the number, the victim has to make a payment, however, not a direct one. The scammers encourage users to buy a gift card and fill it with money.
As soon as that is done, the person is supposed to call back the fake FBI agent number and tell the number of the purchased gift card. This way, the scammers can easily collect money by only knowing the gift card's code. Once the victim provides the fraudster with the required information, the culprit hangs up the call, leaving the victim confused.
The FBI announces that no law enforcement agency would consider a gift card as a viable payment method. Also, the organization outlines that the most vulnerable age groups of people to these types of scams are young children and elderly men and women:
These calls are fraudulent; any legitimate law enforcement officer will not demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public. The FBI defines this type of scam as government impersonation fraud, in which criminals impersonate government officials in an attempt to collect money. <…> Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and organized in their approach, are technologically savvy, and often target young persons and the elderly.
Furthermore, the FBI asks any victims of the scam to present themselves and their losses through the www.ic3.gov website. Users can also find a comprehensive list of various scamming schemes that would help them to prevent losing money to fraud.
Online fraud is widespread, and it involves various social engineering tricks
Various scams are lurking on the Internet, and not all of them are related to fake SSN number suspension claims. Some malicious actors target potential victims with so-called survey scams, where a claim is made that an iPhone, Samsung phone, iPad, or other gift awaits them. These types of scams might ask transferring a small amount of money to receive an award or entering personally-identifiable information. One recent example of such fraud would be Vip Lucky Gifts Center spam.
Other variants of scamming applications include technical support scams such as “Virus Alert from Microsoft,” where the hackers pretend to be from high-profile companies such as Microsoft. These types of frauds claim that users' computer has encountered serious problems, includes viruses and that various consequences await.
Afterward, the hackers urge the victims to call the provided technical support number in order to “fix” all the problems that are allegedly happening to the machine. Without a doubt, such claims are mere lies and should not be believed.
Usually, the main goal is to steal some money or personal information from users. When you dial the given mobile phone number, you might be tricked in revealing some sensitive data to the hackers regarding yourself or your machine. Also, you might be encouraged to purchase rogue security software for an inadequate price.