FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8060
August 27, 2019

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Federal Agent Impersonation Scams

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against government agent impersonation scams.

Our partners at the U.S. Marshals Service are reporting a significant rise in the number of calls they are getting from concerned Oregonians upset about a new round of an old fraud. These people are reporting that they recently received an automated, threatening call—allegedly from the Marshals or other federal agents. The automated call states that the victim is going to be arrested based on a warrant issued by the IRS. That warrant is purportedly a result of the victim’s low credit score.

The call goes on to say that the person can avoid arrest by paying a fine, and the recording will direct the victim how to make contact with someone who can help. Usually, the fraudster will ask for payment using a prepaid debit card or gift card. Once the victim obtains the card, the fraudster will have the person send the number and PIN electronically or read the information over the phone. The funds can be moved off the card and into the scam artist’s hands before he’s even off the phone with the victim.

Scammers use many tactics to sound credible. They sometimes provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials or federal judges, and courthouse addresses. They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are really calling from the court or a government agency.

Things to remember:

  • Neither U.S. Marshals nor other federal agents will ever ask for credit or debit card numbers, gift card numbers, or bank routing numbers. They also won’t ask you to make wire transfers.
  • Don’t divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • Report scam phone calls to your local FBI office or submit information online at https://tips.fbi.gov
  • Authenticate the call by calling the clerk of the court’s office in the U.S. District Court in your area to verify that the arrest warrant is valid like the caller stated.

For more information on cyber crimes, be sure to visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov