Blog Post

Warning Issued on Scams and Spoofing of Government Agency Calls

Richard P. Kusserow | March 2020

Key Points

  • The FBI’s number has been spoofed along with other government agencies
  • Scammers impersonate government agencies as part of fraud schemes
  • In 2019, 13,873 victims of government impersonation scams were reported with losses of over $124 million

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported an increase in phone calls that spoof their phone number as part of a Social Security scam. The callers will often fake the FBI’s headquarters phone number, so the call appears to be coming from the FBI on the victim’s caller ID. Fraudulent callers posing as an FBI agent, or other government agency, will inform victims that their Social Security numbers have been suspended. They provide a fake name and badge number to trick the victims. The callers tell the victims that in order to get their Social Security numbers reinstated, they must purchase gift card(s), put money on the card(s), and then call the scammers back and provide the gift card number(s). The FBI stated that no legitimate law enforcement officer will demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public. The criminals often threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm to obtain personally identifiable information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, organized, and technologically savvy in their approach, often targeting young persons and the elderly. The FBI advises against sending any money or gift cards to anybody that you do not personally know and trust. They also advise against giving out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security numbers, or other personally identifiable information, over the phone or to individuals you do not know.

According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, 13,873 people reported being victims of government impersonation scams in 2019, with losses totaling more than $124 million. More information about government impersonation schemes and other online fraud schemes can be found at

About the Author

Richard P. Kusserow established Strategic Management Services, LLC, after retiring from being the DHHS Inspector General, and has assisted over 3,000 health care organizations and entities in developing, implementing and assessing compliance programs.

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