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FBI warns of government impersonators, romance scams

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Posted at 12:27 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 12:27:59-04

DETROIT — The FBI in Michigan is warning residents of scams involving government impersonators and romance scams.

Government impersonators typically tell the recipient of the call that charges have been, or will be filed, against them and threatens to confiscate property, freeze their bank accounts or have them arrested if they don’t pay the caller immediately, the FBI said. When the recipient questions them, the caller becomes more aggressive.

The FBI said government officials do not call individuals to threaten them or demand money, and that these phone calls aren’t real even if they look like they’re coming from a legitimate law enforcement agency’s number.

In a romance scam, someone adopts a fake identity to get close to the victim before trying to manipulate or steal from them. For example, after getting close, they may ask for help with a financial situation they claim to be experiencing, the FBI said.

Victims may be asked to direct funds to them or to an associate the scammer claims to owe money to.

Investigators say to follow these tips for avoiding scams like this:

- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name or details have been used elsewhere.

- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.

- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.

- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.

- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

Those who wish to report incidents of fraud may contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.