A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

Phone scammers posing as US Department of Justice agents

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RALEIGH — The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime has received multiple reports that individuals claiming to represent the U.S. Department of Justice are calling members of the public as part of an impostor scam. The department strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls, which appear to target the elderly.

Reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline indicate these scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number. The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

“Phone scams are an ugly and pervasive act of victimization. The scams being reported to our National Elder Fraud Hotline are especially heinous because they show the perpetrators are preying upon one of the most vulnerable segments of our society — the elderly,” said Office for Victims of Crime Director Jessica Hart. “As if this were not despicable enough, the scammers do so posing as employees of the Justice Department, usurping public trust in the agency that serves as a bastion of fairness and lawfulness while these scams exploit the elderly for financial gain. The first step to identifying these criminals is to have their crimes reported.”

U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon said it’s unconscionable for scammers to prey upon vulnerable citizens by pretending to be associated with law enforcement or prosecutors.

“Your Department of Justice does not do business this way and does not seek your personal identifying information over the telephone,” Higdon said. “We don’t make threats over the phone; we don’t cut deals over the phone and we don’t use investigators who do it for us.”

Those who receive these calls are encouraged not to provide personal information and to report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 877–FTC–HELP (877-382-4357). Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older. Reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first two to three days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open seven days a week. For more information, visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.