Warning to Beware of Scammers
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a Fraud Alert reporting that its Hotline telephone number is being used in a telephone “spoofing” scam. The OIG is actively conducting criminal investigations of this matter and presenting cases to the United States Attorney for prosecution. The OIG reported that scammers have been altering the appearance of the caller ID to appear as if the call is coming from the HHS OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). The scammers represent themselves as HHS OIG Hotline employees and use various tactics to obtain or verify the victims’ personal information. This information is then used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity. The OIG emphasizes that it does not use its Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls, and that no one should answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). The OIG further encourages everyone to be vigilant in protecting their personal information and suggests that they avoid providing personal information during calls that purport to be from the HHS OIG Hotline. Those who believe they may have been a victim of the telephone spoofing scam should report that information to the HHS OIG Hotline or [email protected]. Complaints may also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
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Furthermore, the OIG has ensured that it is still safe to call the HHS OIG Hotline to report fraud. The Office of Investigations, including 420 specially trained agents, evaluates the reported information. This communication channel continues to be a significant source of leads for the OIG investigators who present criminal and civil fraud cases to the Department of Justice for prosecution. In 2016, the OIG Hotline received over 150,000 contacts of raw information, an average of more than 400 per day. After initial evaluation, the result was a little over 20,000 cases for investigation. The monetary results from hotline-initiated cases in 2016 totaled $45.8 million, of which over $20 million came directly from Hotline calls. The reported non-monetary actions resulted in 57 cases, of which 25 were the direct result of Hotline calls.
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