FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
March 22, 2021

FBI Cleveland Division Warns of Financial Scams

The Cleveland Division of the FBI is issuing a warning not to fall victim to scams demanding money. Various scams are occurring in our community and the FBI is advising the public these are not legitimate. It is difficult for law enforcement to determine the original source of these scams as most originate overseas. Therefore, the best intervention is prevention, don’t be a victim.

Recently the Cleveland Division of the FBI has received calls from victims reporting the following occurrences:

  • One elderly female wire transferred an approximate total of $173,000 over three-months in a lottery scam. The elderly female was promised a prize of $2.5 million and an added bonus of a 2019 Mercedes.
  • Another individual, a physician, received a call stating that the Department of Justice was suspending his medical license as numerous prescriptions were discovered with his name on them as the prescribing physician. The physician was sent faxes with Department of Justice logos entitled, “Federal Bond and Protocol Agreement” and that his bank accounts were comprised by drug traffickers. The physician complied with the demands to pay the fine and provided a total of approximately $188,000.
  • Scammers have represented themselves as FBI employees trying to help. In one instance, a lady received a pop up on her computer and was advised to call a tech support phone number. The lady called and was advised she was speaking to an FBI “cyber encryption” specialist and she needed to secure her money in cyber vaults. The victim tried to wire money to the scammers, her bank was suspicious and rejected the wire transfer request. She then tried to send the money via UPS, the store returned the package to her. The bank and UPS store both notified police.
  • In the last few days scammers have been convincing their “potential victims” that their bank accounts have been compromised, therefore, they should liquidate their bank accounts and send all of their funds to a new financial account for safe keeping.
  • One individual, an FBI employee, received a voice-mail from the Social Security Administration indicating the individual would be arrested if they did not return the phone call and pay the fine.

No matter the story behind the scam, individuals need to be cautious with phone, computer, and mail solicitations demanding money. If the individual receives a “cold” call/ pop up demanding money for fines, for safe keeping, threats of arrest, etc. individuals should not respond hastily. Most scammers express an urgency to resolve the matter and demand money be sent right away. Some individuals have provided money via wire transfer, while others have placed cash in the U.S. mail.

Individuals need to understand government agencies WILL NOT telephone an individual demanding money be wired or cash placed in the mail to pay fines.

Lottery winnings do not involve paying money first in order to collect your prize.

Individuals receiving these types of solicitations demanding money should discuss the occurrence with a trusted family member or friend, look the agency up online, obtain an actual phone number for the agency, call the agency and report the call/pop up received. Report any suspicious solicitations online at www.ic3.gov.

It is imperative that we raise awareness to these types of scams to our family members, friends, elderly neighbors, and community members. The best approach is avoidance of becoming a victim. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to retrieve the funds once they have been sent. Do not be a victim in the first place.

Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to SA Vicki Anderson at vagregg@fbi.gov or 216-522-1400.