FBI warns Washington state of fraudulent phone scams

SEATTLE, Wash. — The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Seattle branch is warning the Pacific Northwest of a circulating phone scam in which criminals are identifying themselves as representatives of the FBI.

According to a release by FBI Seattle, there’s been an increase in fraudulent phone calls coming from the FBI Seattle Headquarters’ main phone number, 206-622-0460. Fake callers have allegedly been telling citizens that they’re under investigation, scaring ordinary people into giving away their private information.

Scammers allegedly provide fake names and case numbers to trick their targets into believing their scheme. According to the FBI release, Washingtonians are handing over personally identifiable information such as names, social security numbers and their date of birth.

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The FBI says that scammers like these ones are becoming more sophisticated by committing government impersonation fraud using various avenues provided by technology. Oftentimes, scammers are extorting civilians by gathering their personal information or by threatening physical harm.

According to the authorities, young people and elderly people are the individuals more likely to be targeted in this kind of offense.

In 2020, 12,334 people reported incidents of government impersonation fraud, according to research by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Their data says that Americans lost a whopping $106 million in damages to this kind of crime last year.

Washington state has been specifically targeted in phone scams as of late. According to IC3 research, 358 victims of these crimes were reported in Washington last year, resulting in $2 million in losses.

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Government impersonation fraud efforts have ramped up in recent weeks with 24 victims from Washington reporting $465,000 in losses since January 21, 2021.

The FBI urges Washingtonians to beware of unexpected calls coming from government offices. They also advise that Washington residents refrain from giving out personal information or sending money to individuals they don’t know personally.

For more information from the FBI on government fraud, click here.

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