FBI Jacksonville
Amanda Warford Videll
February 1, 2022

Government Impersonators Targeting North Florida Residents

Federal Agencies Do Not Threaten Individuals or Demand Immediate Payment

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The FBI Jacksonville Tallahassee Resident Agency has received reports of efforts by scammers to target Florida residents through unsolicited telephone calls in which the caller claims to be a representative of the FBI.

There are many versions of the government impersonation scam, and they all use aggressive, intimidation tactics. Typically, a scammer contacts a victim via phone, text, or email and claims that charges have been, or soon will be, filed against them. Victims are told that they will be forced to pay significant fees or court costs to resolve the matter if they do not wire “settlement” money or provide payment via prepaid cards or gift cards. The scammer will then threaten to confiscate the victim’s property, freeze their bank accounts, or have them arrested unless payment is made immediately.

“Nobody wants to be the subject of a law enforcement investigation, and scammers are using that knowledge to intimidate people into handing over their hard-earned money. Don’t fall for it,” said Sherri Onks, special agent in charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “It’s important to resist the urge to act immediately and take time to verify who is actually contacting you.”

Be advised, federal agencies do not call or email individuals threatening them or demanding money. Scammers often spoof caller ID information, and these phone calls are fraudulent even if they appear to be coming from a federal agency’s legitimate phone number. Recipients should hang up immediately and report the call to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. Filing a complaint allows analysts from the FBI to identify leads and patterns from the hundreds of complaints that are received daily. The IC3 then refers the complaints, along with their analyses, to the relevant law enforcement agency to aid in public awareness and crime-prevention education efforts.

If you think you are a victim of any type of scam and have suffered a loss financially or otherwise, also file a report with your local law enforcement agency and contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov for additional guidance.