PHONE SCAM SPOOFS LAW ENFORCEMENT PHONE NUMBERS TO EXTORT MONEY FROM VICTIMS

May 21, 2019

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The Align Cybersecurity Team has been notified of a new phone scam whereby perpetrators are spoofing law enforcement phone numbers and tricking victims into sending them money.

On May 20th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert to warn citizens of the spoofing scam.

  • Part 1: Fraudsters are leveraging mobile apps with built-in chat features or online chat rooms, such as Facebook Messenger or Words with Friends, to build friendships with victims. Another tactic that scammers are using is luring victims in over chat rooms or online dating sites by simulating romantic interest. In both scenarios, the perpetrator works to gain the individual's trust, then describes a hardship they are going through and eventually persuades the victim to send them money. 

  • Part 2: The following day, the criminal will call their targets, spoofing the caller ID of legitimate DHS or other law enforcement phone numbers to pretend they are employees of those groups. The scammer informs the victim that their money was provided to a terrorist or criminal organization and connects them to a "lawyer" to help resolve the issue. After the "lawyer" is contacted, the victim is instructed to pay a retainer fee of $1,000 or more via wire transfer, check or other means. 

Do you think you may have been a victim of this scam?

If so, DHS OIG urges you to contact the DHS OIG Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or file a complaint online via their website www.oig.dhs.gov. 

Stay safe out there.

Tags: Cybersecurity