FBI Seattle Warns of Scammers Spoofing the FBI Phone Number to Trick Victims Into Releasing Personal Information
SEATTLE, WA—FBI Seattle has seen a recent increase in phone calls that “spoof,” or fake, FBI Seattle Headquarters’ main phone number, 206-622-0460, so the call appears to originate from the FBI on the recipient’s caller ID. Fraudulent callers posing as an FBI agent inform victims that they are under investigation. The scammers provide a fake name and nonexistent case number to trick the victim into believing they are an FBI agent. The fraudsters then request personally identifiable information, such as a name, social security number, and date of birth.
The FBI defines this type of scam as government impersonation fraud, in which criminals impersonate government officials. The criminals often threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm to obtain personally identifiable information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and organized in their approach, are technologically savvy, and often target young persons and the elderly.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 12,334 people reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2020, with losses totaling more than $106 million. In Washington state in 2020, 358 victims reported $2 million in losses. As of January 21, 2021, 24 victims had already reported $465,000 in losses in Washington state.
To protect yourself from falling victim to this scam, be wary of answering phone calls from unrecognized numbers. Do not send money to anybody that you do not personally know and trust. Never give out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security number, or other personally identifiable information, over the phone or to individuals you do not know.
Anyone who feels they were the victim of this or any other online scam should report the incident immediately using the IC3 website at www.ic3.gov. More information about government impersonation schemes and other online fraud schemes can be found at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes.